Caring for others, be it an elderly parent, a relative, a child, or a friend, is one of the highest forms of human service. However, altruism aside, caring for others often means that you put their needs before your own. You set aside your desires and wishes for another day, a day when you’ll have the luxury of time to spend by yourself and on yourself. It is a day you dream about and yearn for.
In the meantime, you give and give and give. You begin to wear down and out. Energy and enthusiasm wanes as you become physically exhausted and emotionally drained. It may seem that the more you give, the more that is requested or required of you. It becomes harder to keep up and maintain your pace. Your nerves wear thin. You begin to do less and less for yourself. Periodically you wonder, “Where is there care for me?” You may begin to ask: “What’s happened to me, to my life?” Worse yet, you may feel guilty for having those thoughts!
A continuous outflow of energy through giving without refueling or replenishing yourself cannot possibly end up anywhere but in fatigue and burnout. It is then that resentment can set in not to mention damage to your own health. You must stop and refuel in order to keep going.
Each of us can only give away what we have. Humans are adaptable and it may seem that we can give from nothing, or run along on empty for quite a time, but the truth is that the bill for such behavior will eventually come due. It may seem ironic that as a caregiver you need to put yourself first. However, it is truly the only way to assure a reserve of energy to care for others without creating problems for you! Regular self care and self nurture is essential to create the inner resources that allow for a constant and even flow of energy for both you and the ones you love.
Some simple steps toward positive stress management and energy enhancement
Awareness is a process that encourages change. The first step is to pay attention. Begin to observe your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and actions. Observation leads to having more information about yourself so you may begin to have more choice regarding your inner world and also your actions. From there you can start to experience more ability to feel in charge of yourself and life as well as to have the beginning of learning to develop a sense of inner peace.
Learn to Use Your Breath Properly
Learning to breathe properly has many health benefits on a physical level. It makes you feel more energized, lifts the spirits and can relieve many symptoms of anxiety. It can also help you to experience less of a sense of inner stress, and to create feelings of acceptance, peace, and tranquility. These qualities remain thoughts unless there is a process to move them from the head to the heart!
In addition, focusing on the breath provides a means to interrupt obsessive negative thoughts. Learning how to breathe in a slow, full, easy, rhythmical way can help calm difficult emotions.
Resistance, whether it is emotional or physical, intensifies pain. Learning to experience an inner state of acceptance not only helps you to feel better, but also contributes to positive change and empowerment from the inside out!
Practicing acceptance of minor daily circumstances such as a traffic jam or a computer glitch can help train us for acceptance of life’s larger events. All these approaches contribute to a natural slowing down of the mind. This helps provide clarity and the ability to distinguish between what we can change and what we cannot.
We all have positive and negative traits but often focus on the negative as if it were all there is. At some point we begin to feel heavy, burdened, deeply flawed. This may be the result of early conditioning. However, no matter where it originated, it is possible for you to take charge and create something different for yourself.
A way you can begin to create this shift is to name five things you are grateful for in your life every night before sleep. Upon arising in the morning name five things that are positive about you and that you are grateful for. Focus on these frequently throughout the day.
You can begin with simple things such as the fact that you can see, hear, feel, taste or have good teeth! Progress to positive emotional qualities as you gets more comfortable with the process. Work toward naming 100 traits to be grateful for within a month’s time—watch your energy change!
We are harder on ourselves than we are on others
Before we can legitimately give others compassion, we need to be able to have that skill internally– for ourselves. How often have we heard that the only way to truly accept and love another is to do so for yourself first. We cannot give something away that we do not possess.
Challenge yourself to find three opportunities a day to practice compassion on yourself!
Integrating these simple skills into your daily life will add to your energy, create a feeling of positive flow within and ultimately bring you more joy, peace and fulfillment than you may now experience!