For Care Partners: Taking Care of Your Health and Self
As a Parkinson’s disease care partner/caregiver, my “to do” list is pretty long but it recently got much longer due to bronchitis and a sinus infection last fall and another sinus infection this past March. My energy levels took a huge hit - impacting my care partner role, household duties, work schedule, keeping up with family and friends, and last but not least, my physical and emotional wellness.
A tug of guilt
During my recovery time from these illnesses, I began to feel guilty about my lack of energy and sluggishness. My husband can still do most of his activities of daily living but there were times I couldn’t muster enough energy to do a load of laundry or go to grocery store. My husband was so caring and such a great caregiver to me! He asked me how I was feeling, if I needed anything like tea or more tissues, and gave me a hug when I needed it.
As time went on and I began to realize all the items I had postponed – my internal stress increased. I would wake up in the middle of the night and realize how much work there was to do and be unable to fall back asleep. It did not help my recovery to be waking up fretting in the middle of the night. After doing this a few nights in a row, I knew I had to find a way to qualm my stress and worry.
That’s when I decided to dump all my worries - to do items, ideas and anything else that came up into a document on my computer. I typed and typed for about an hour – every little item that popped in, I put it on a list and kept on typing. I made different lists for home/work/other and categorized each item. As I typed, I began to relax. Eventually, after about an hour and half, I actually started yawning and was able to put the computer down and went back to sleep.
Mind-body connection awareness
I truly believe that the weight of my to-do list and my self-imposed guilt was hampering my ability to fully recover from these illnesses. My mind was so powerful that it took control of my body. From my practices of mindfulness meditation and Reiki, I know that when the mind takes the lead, the body and spirit can begin to suffer and falter. Once I took the proactive step of putting my worries on a list and leave them alone for a while, the body began to relax and let the healing begin!
Have you ever tried journaling?