First Aid for the Caregiver

 

Hello,

 

The chronically ill often have people around them who care for them, worry about them, and suffer the consequences of putting themselves last.  This article is about those of you who care for your loved one – and some of you may be ill yourselves at the same time as caring for another.

 

These notes on self care certainly pertain to those of you who are chronically ill – from Lyme or other conditions as well.  These are shorthand notes, but I hope you find them helpful.  Let me know!

 

•  How do we really take care of ourselves, what does this really mean?

 

 

A.  Physical Care for the Caretaker

 

•  A day in the (ideal) life

 

•  Sleep – six to eight hours per day; create a sleep sanctuary, low electric magnetic frequency in room, no light, shades to keep out light, replace light emitting electronics, regular bedtime, natural bedding and covers, I encourage you to get the animals out of the bed, earplugs, (for you or partner) get a sleep apnea test if there is a hint of this condition, eye covers, cotton pajamas or no clothing, no TV in bedroom, no drinks after 6, dinner as early as possible, light dinner, heavier meal at lunch, warm shower or Epsom salt bath before bedtime, soothing CD to assist with relaxation, herbal tea to promote relaxation; not  melatonin, Valarian, hops, liquorish, combination teas for sleeping taken at the right time before bed, develop a regular routine, calming ritual, foot bath/soak (Epsom salt), sit back on neck or back massager in chair.

 

•  Awakening – Should it be natural or alarmed? If alarmed, can it be soft, gradual? Or a combination of increasing natural light with carefully chosen music; take a hot, then cool shower using a glove scrubber; I encourage the use of gentle, pure soap to reduce allergen challenge, pure shampoos, other personal products; with common neck pain, stretch neck in shower with hot water flowing on the neck, moving neck in circular motions(Yoga stretch); using your mind, focus on stress and worry flowing down your body and down the drain (it takes no additional time)

 

•  Dry brushing with a natural bristle brush all over your body, all in the direction of your heart

 

•  Neti pot – nasal lavage – 2 times per day to prevent colds, flu, sinus infections, nose bleeds, ear infections, etc.

 

•  Frequent hand washing with warm water and soap (no need for anti-bacterial agents, can create rebound)

 

•  Dental health critical – electric tooth brush preferred; regular dental appointments and cleanings

 

•  Regular health check-ups

 

•  Weekly or bi-weekly massage, Energy healing - Reiki

 

•  Daily moderate exercise at a regular time (15-20 minutes a day, at least three times per week – building up at your own pace); mix and match

 

•  Yoga – physical, emotional, spiritual practice – all encompassing life style

 

•  Walking – can be gently aerobic, easy on joints, can use iPod with uplifting music, mood elevating; running if conditioned, though this is potentially more dangerous

 

•  Biking (spinning classes) – being sure to build up slowly

 

•  Pilates – combination of Yoga and western type exercising – but be careful for pulling muscles

 

•  Swimming – excellent all over exercise; aqua classes are gently aerobic and strengthening as well as social

 

•  Jacuzzi, hot tub – toxin release

 

•  Sauna – toxin release

 

•  Steam room – toxin release – all are stress reducers

 

•  Diet

 

•  Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet

 

•  Blood Type Diet

 

•  Drink ½ your body weight in ounces (if you weigh 120 lbs, drink 60 oz per day) – spring or filtered water

 

•  How much did you weigh at age 20-25?  Was that your ideal weight?  Gradual restitution of body balance fosters the body’s self-healing

 

•  Focus on fresh, organic vegetables and some fruits – nurturing for the body, and detoxifying.

 

•  Garlic, garlic, garlic

 

•  Focus on whole foods (foods that your grandmother would have recognized as food) – do you know what processed food is?  In my lifetime:  processed foods, genetically modified, chemicalized, denatured, dyed, bleached, enriched, stripped, hormone-fed, artificial fertilizers, artificial ingredients with names you can’t pronounce.  Read the labels, keep it simple and natural.  Introduce more raw foods into your diet – vita-mix and juicing; if our body does not “recognize” food substitutes, it turns to fat and cellulite (pollution)

 

•  Do not cook with aluminum pans (some research points to aluminum as a possible causative agent in Alzheimer disease) ; rather use cast iron or enamel covered pans.

 

•  Use Himalayan or Celtic sea salt:  provides micro-nutrients – composition is compatible with our body composition

 

•  Some animal and fish protein – organic and free range – very important.  Have less but of better quality – same money

 

•  Substitute natural sweets for white, cane, processed sugar; eliminate foods containing xxx corn sweetener xxx – molasses, local honey to reduce allergies, fruit, naturally dried fruit, 85% cacao chocolate

 

•  Moderate caffeine usage (excessive caffeine restricts blood flow to the brain, lowers cognitive function and can exacerbate emotional and mental health problems.)

 

•   Introduce green tea to promote focus, and enhance anti-oxidant function

 

•  Greens in powdered for capsule form helpful in detoxing

 

•  Moderate alcohol consumption of red wine with meals is OK, but certainly not necessary.  Alcohol is not a health food, but if occasionally used to enhance pleasure, enjoy.

 

•  Celebrate with each meal!  Candles at the dinner table, pleasant table talk, social time, or if alone, celebrate with yourself.

 

B.  Mental, Psychological, Emotional Care for the Caretaker

 

The Dark Side (Enabling/Caretaking is a harmful way):

•  My state of happiness depends on you; if you are well, then I will be OK

•  I love you

•  You matter more than me

•   I am unworthy of care and love

•  I am a function of giving

•  I do not honor my individual self

•   I am here for you

•   I am a machine; I can give unconditionally without regard to my own resources

•   I can do anything out of Love for you regardless of my own needs

•  I have no needs, it’s all about you

•  You first

•  Me last

•  I deny my exhaustion, pain, fear, need

•   I insist I can do this

•  I have no time for caring for myself

•  I am too busy, I have too much to do

•  Doing is more important than being

•  Love is a one way street, for now

•  My time will come, but I can’t think about that now

•  I numb myself in order to keep on going

•  I am helpless to heal you

•  I cannot control your illness, so I feel out of control

•  I want to fix you so you will feel better, then I will feel better

•  I am overwhelmed

•  I find myself compulsively engaging in pleasurable but dangerous behavior

•  I get irritable and tired, but I must ignore it

•  I feel like I am being used and victimized

•  No one is taking care of me and I resent it

•  I am sacrificing myself and no one even notices it

•  I don’t feel appreciated

•  I resent that others are not helping out

•  Why am I always the one that others rely upon?

•  Why do I have to do it all?

•  I am angry, but feel guilty about it

•  I shouldn’t be feeling what I am feeling

•  I love you, but now you are becoming a burden

•  When will it be over?

•  I want out

•  Guilt, guilt, guilt

•  I hate you

•  I hate myself for hating you

•  I should be a better person

•  I deserve punishment for being so mean, irritable and hateful

•  I don’t feel well

•  I am tired

•  I have pain and misery

•  I feel isolated and alone

•  I can’t tell anyone about these dark thoughts and feelings

•  If I did they would see through me

•  I would be rejected for the selfish person I am

•  I feel like giving up

•  Stop being a baby

•  Buck up

•  Get over yourself

•  I am hungry

•  I am tired

•  I want to disappear

 

The Light Side (healthy way of loving and giving)

 

•  I love myself

•  I love you

•  I deserve time for myself every day

•  I nurture myself for me

•  I nurture myself so that I can share my love and care for you

•  I consciously work at balance in my life

•  I tune into my feelings and my body

•  I identify compulsive behaviors and begin a recovery program

•  I am aware of what defenses I use, and use them consciously as I need them, not automatically

•  I identify and express my feelings in a healthy, assertive manner

•  I avoid extreme and all or nothing thinking

•  I challenge rigid thinking and seek to expand my consciousness

•  I key into my body to check for somatic feelings so I can know what I am feeling

•  I recognize boundaries and maintain boundaries with others

•  I stop trying to control and fix others. I give less advise and fewer explanations

•  I treasure myself

•  I eat well, I exercise and relax every day

•  I honor the different parts of me: wife, husband, daughter, son, mother, father, aunt, uncle, colleague, student, friend, worker, chef, housewife

•  I honor the physical, mental, psychological and spiritual aspects of myself

•  I remember that I am larger than any one moment

•  I swim, walk, meditate, dance, pray

•  I get massages, energy work, other healing on a regular basis

•  I watch funny movies

•  I nurture my creativity

•  I remember what play is; I play

•  I learn to trust myself

•  I love you

•  I care for you

•  My cup floweth over and I joyfully share what I have with you

•  I say No so I can say yes

•  I talk to you (as appropriate) about my feelings and needs

•  I honor your strength and gifts and ask for your help in the ways that you can give

•  In so doing, that strengthens you

•  I confront you if you become abusive or irritable with me

•  I offer “in your face compassion” if that is what is needed

•  I protect myself from abusive and destructive relationships.

•  I focus on what people do, not what they say:  reality

•  Therapy helps at an impasse

 

C.  Spiritual Care for the Caretaker (and all the rest of us)

 

•  I express gratitude for the gifts of life

•  I practice surrender to a higher power

•  I pray (talk to Spirit) and meditate (I listen to Spirit) daily – start out with just 5 minutes—up to 30 minutes

•  I walk the earth and feel connection with the force of nature, and accept solace from that connection

•  I practice living in the present, being here now

•  I practice compassion and forgiveness for myself and others

•  I open myself to intimacy and tenderness in my relationships

•  I practice the art of “seeing” the beauty in nature, art, music

•  I remember that this, too, will pass

•  I remember that I, and we are part of the whole

•  I surrender to Spirit and ask for help

•  I remember that I am not alone

 

© 2016 - Cynthia M. Chase, All Rights Reserved

Webdesign by Evocatory