Being a parent to someone with a chronic illness can be emotionally, financially and physically draining. So can you really be happy and add to your wellness bank account? Sure you can, and just like most things in life it will take practice and might resemble work. I typically have a sunny disposition in life, but from time to time I need to work on my deposits. When you don’t get a break from caregiving, eventually fatigue will set in. Think about having to run or bike for days upon days without stopping. Your legs will give out and you will shut down. Not taking care of ourselves as caregivers will result in a similar outcome.
Without further delay here are a few things that could help add to your wellness bank account.
- Find some type of movement/exercise that you enjoy doing. It could be running (my favorite), cross fit, swimming, walking, parasailing; you get the point! Studies show that just a few minutes of exercise per day can lower your stress level. Make it a habit and make space for it, not time. When you make time you are trying to fit it into your day, but when you make space you are protecting the time.
- Laugh when you can; even if it is during a code brown. Laughter and smiling will surely increase your wellness bank account. To be sure it doesn’t mitigate the work to clean up the mess, but it could make it tolerable. By the way you could also get the benefit from watching people laugh or watching a funny movie.
- Tune in!! Slap on your favorite music and just let it transport you to your happy place. Studies show that music can help you reduce your stress level and increase your happiness level.
- Get your nature on! Go sit outside and soak in the sun-rays. This is different than exercising. Sit under a tree and read or listen to a book. Nature is a powerful way to combat day to day debits. It can be as little as 5 minutes.
- Disconnect to reconnect. Put your electronic devices away so you can connect with other humans. Technology is great, but our bodies are wired for human interactions.
- Journal your thoughts, even the scary ones. Writing can be a healthy and cathartic experience. You can go old school and write in a journal or you can use apps like Day One (available for Apple) or any similar electronic products. I started to write daily one thing that I am grateful for. I don’t always get every day, but it has been a powerful way to remain present in my life. I don’t dwell on missing a day because of #7, I offer myself forgiveness.
- Drop the judging and deposit with forgiveness. We are so quick to judge ourselves as not being enough or being a perfect parent, spouse or partner that we carrying that weight day to day. Newsflash there is no perfect anything there is only improvement and growth.
- Surround yourself with people who want to make the world awesome; including your world. I believe it is better to have quality in this department. Have principled, honest, compassionate people who want to see you be successful.
- Meditate and become an active participant in your life. When you take time to relax your mind and be mindful about your present spot in life it will add to your wellness bank account.
- Sleep – This one can sometimes be super challenging as caregivers we close our eyes last and open our eyes first. Take it from me no great emails or thoughts typically come at 2:30 in the morning. In fact, I find that is where more often than not our inner critic thrives. When you are awake in the middle of the night with worry, skip up to # 9 and #11.
- Bonus Tip – Breathe yes I know we are all breathing each and every day, but take time to become mindful of your breath. Do so with purpose and intent and focus your breath deep cleansing on the way out and energizing on the way in.
These are just a few ideas that have helped me from time to time. Remember it is ok to be tired, afraid, angry, but don’t live in those states. Living a well-filled life is not the preclusion of strife or pain, but rather having the ability to endure during the pain. Strive to deposit more tomorrow in your wellness account then you did today!