One simple practice a friend shared with me has kept me from becoming overwhelmed. It is simply, “Just focus on one thing. One thing.” When that feeling of overwhelm starts creeping into my consciousness, I literally say out loud, “One thing, Vic. Just one thing.” Hearing that simple phrase re-centers my head and my next step lands more steadily.
Caregiving is nothing but juggling bowling pins. I know that. My desk occupies a list for the day, compiled from other lists that are compiled from a calendar that fills up with multiple, ongoing tasks for the days ahead. To look at all of that can easily fake me out into feeling beaten before the day even begins. However, if I say, “One thing, Vic. Just one thing,” I inevitably settle and breathe. This one simple practice helped me breathe and it also became my form of self care.
So how does this work when Alzheimer’s is nothing but unexpected, continual fires that ignite everywhere and need stamping out? Obviously, I first put out the fire. An example was shared in a recent blog where Mom forgot her house key. I had to drop what I was doing and drive to her house to let her in. This put all my other to-do’s aside, which of course, pissed me off. I had to once again re-prioritize and move things to another time and day, which led to everything to backing up like an L.A. traffic jam. And like any traffic jam, stress sits and idles. Overwhelm starts to accelerate and before I know it, I’m doing the backstroke in a river of thick sludge. Then Fear pulls up alongside me in its stupid dinghy, wearing a cap, whistle and megaphone, goading me to swim faster, faster, faster. The pressure becomes so ridiculous I feel like if I don’t keep pace, the world will fall off its axis and all humanity will end forever.
STOP. “One thing, Vic. Just one thing.”
What Is True For Me: This principal cuts out the superfluous excess. If I’m driving to the doctor’s office with Mom, that is my “one thing” for that moment. Sitting in the waiting room is my “one thing” for that moment. Making a phone call to the Insurance Company is my “one thing” for that moment. Teaching my fitness class is my “one thing” for that moment. I practiced that until it became a natural thing to me. One simple practice was all it took to help me breathe.
Saying it aloud allows me and the Universe/God to hear those non-judgmental words. They resonate and echo like a powerful declaration to support the intention and effort I do make. Sometimes the result is as dramatic as the parting of the Red Sea. Other times it is as subtle as just making it through one ore minute, hour, or day like any other ordinary person who is not a caregiver. Either way, I will have climbed the staircase, one step at a time, without losing my breath or losing my mind.
For more tips on self-care, please visit washoecaregivers.org and download a copy of the Guidebook here.
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