Care For The Caregiver
The best care for others always begins with the best care for ourselves. Many people discover that listening to music, meditation, prayer, or gently breathing allows them to take an internal break and emerge refreshed when they enter their care routines.
It is important for you as a caregiver to create moments for your own well-being. You may already have particular care practices. Taking simple breath, reviewing a favorite spiritual reading, praying, or taking a moment to view nature can create calmness that is important to promoting well-being.
Try a simple care for the caregiver exercise before you begin your lesson and each time you practice a session with your care partner. Make it a part of your caregiving process for yourself throughout the day. You will be amazed the many ways such a simple practice relaxes and refreshes you. And the benefits last all day.
Here are a few simple breathing exercises if you have not yet developed your own care practice!
1 | A BREATH POEM EXERCISE
You might choose to reflect on this poem (or one of your favorites or a spiritual text from your tradition) as you gently breathe in and then out with each line. Feel free to incorporate gentle movement with each line as well.
Take a Breath.
Now take a gentle breath and then slowly release before each line of the poem.
I am blooming as a flower
I am fresh as the dew
I am solid as a mountain
I am firm as the earth
I am free, I am free, I am free
— Thich Nhat Hanh
2 | A SIMPLE BREATH EXERCISE
Begin by allowing yourself to become comfortable in your surroundings. Scan your body and invite it to soften as you begin to deepen your breath. Take your time.
Now, take a look and “see” where you are with fresh curiosity. Notice what you see as if you were seeing for the first time. | Now take a pause.
Maybe take a moment to name things, sights, smells, sounds. The window with rustling green leaves. A blue sky. A yellow pencil. The smell of crayons. A multicolored pile of laundry. The hum and warmth of the dryer. Beautiful images on your computer. The crisp linen on the hospital bed. The painting on the wall. Make no judgment about any of what you see. Simply, allow yourself to be with things as they are and name them. Red. Soft. Rustling. Hum. Allow yourself to relax and deeply experience being here. | Now take a pause.
Take a deep new breath that stretches your ribs. Release your breath slowly and gently. | Now take a pause.
Slowly and gently continue to take 3-4 slow, in and out breaths. Watch your body expand and contract with each breath. Be aware. Imagine that you have all the time in the world (even though you can do this in a minute or two.) Think of your breath as waves in an ocean that are rinsing you with renewal. With each exhale, gently let go of any tension you may notice in your neck and shoulders. | Now take a pause.
Take another set of three deep breaths and think about how much you will enjoy this learning session or the time with your care partner. Imagine how it will feel to laugh, to explore, to create together. Anticipate something wonderful. | Now take a pause.
Bring a gentle smile to your face as you continue to gently breathe. | Now take a pause.
Imagine what it will feel like to enter the rest of the day refreshed, renewed, and reinvigorated after this creative caregiving session. | Now take a pause.
Now, take a final deep and gentle breath. Acknowledge that you are moving into a new moment. Move into the next moment. | Now take a pause.
See the difference attention to your own breath can make?!
Embrace this moment fully refreshed and prepared to continue with your lesson or caregiving practice!