Caregiver Hour Radio Show Discussing the Unique Needs of Family Caregivers

Please join me as I am interviewed by Host Kim Linder on the Tampa Florida based radio show: Caregiver Hour Radio Show discussing the unique needs of family caregivers

Re-establish a Link with Your Joy in Practicing Nursing

In my practices as a career coach, nurses have shared a variety of reason for why they have sort out my services. A feeling of being stuck is often referenced. A sense that is time for a new challenge is not uncommon. Occasionally the person calling is at a crossroads and trying to decide if he/she should continue in the profession or make a total change.  It is my sense that the common denominator embedded in these reasons is a need to reconnect with the Joy of practicing nursing.

The challenge to deliver safe, quality patient care in the face of reimbursement cuts and increasing regulatory oversight taxes the resolve and spirit of many on the patient care front lines and leadership. But this fact is only scratching the surface of a deeper issue. Discontent with one’s present circumstances is usually at the center of most personal confusion. If unresolved, this sense of discontent can often lead to a hardening of one’s attitude, heart and subsequently their loss of joy.

So when the challenges of life appear to be closing in; it is vital to Stop. Gift yourself the luxury of creating much needed space around you so that you can gain a perspective on the issues free from self-imposed stress that can create the delusion of helplessness. Stop. Be still and tap into that compassion and courage that lead you to choose nursing to begin with and direct it inward. Be gentle but be relentless in your pursuit of your personal truth.

Is the etiology of your discontent truly with your profession or chosen specialty? Perhaps the cause is emanating from your personal life and spilling over into your professional world? Maybe you are laboring under the influence of compassion fatigue because you have neglected to keep yourself renewed and therefore resilient to the onslaught of demands and need to change. The relief that can be felt by having the ability to broaden ones view so that patience settles over the situation and options can be accessed is invaluable. From this place of gentle, calm reflection one can sort through the layers of why contentment is elusive.

How does one re-establish a link with their original joy in practicing? Perhaps the first step is acknowledge that you are discontent and then quickly embrace that you deserve better. Try exploring these approaches:

·         Identify the habitual behaviors that have sabotaged you and stop clinging to them. Do you allow yourself to anger quickly? Have you let cynicism and gossip replace you ability to speak face to face with others and problem solve? Are you able to say no and mean it? These negative behaviors can insidiously creep into you demeanor over time if you are not cautious. Repairing this tear in your fabric is accomplished by acknowledging your shortcomings, reconnecting with your basic goodness and finding the courage to love and respect yourself NO MATTER WHAT. Doing this will compel you to make better choices.

·         Have faith and learn to adapt. Try to embrace the example of compliance exhibited by the bamboo tree. Have the strength to accommodate without yielding victory to anyone but you.  When any strong wind comes your way, learn to bend so you will not break. Adapt without viewing it as a blow to your Ego.

·         Reframe change in terms of a new opportunity rather than a loss or an insult to your need for control.

·         Find and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Give yourself the priceless gift of quiet time. Make friend with the noise in your head. Relax with it and smile. With practice, reflection/meditation offers respites of quiet, replenishing space.

·         Invest in your own health. Make that appointment with your doctor and dentist. Walk, take the stairs, have a massage often.

·         Forgive. Under no circumstance condone; but you can free yourself from reliving the event and reconnecting with the pain. Let go. It does not serve any good or useful purpose to hold onto anger, disappointment or pain. It only serves to harden you heart.

·         Get help for whatever you are addicted to; alcohol, other substances, gossip, criticism, anger, etc. Develop or renew a healthy relationship with yourself. Addictions to substances or behaviors are diseases of isolation. Isolation only serves to distort reality and inflate concerns into problems.

·         Work to develop the characteristic of Equanimity. This is a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, pain or challenges that may trigger one to lose their sense of balance.

Nurses possess the amazing ability to turn their compassionate nature into the action we call, caring. Caring is not a sprint. It is a marathon. An undertaking of the profession of nursing requires preparation, training and a devoted attention to what it will take to keep you in the race. Contentment is attainable but reconnecting with your joy is more than just a simple change in perspective. It is a commitment to your personal sense of wellbeing gained through acknowledging that joy is your birthright.Joy is a conscious choice to stay soft and accommodate without yielding.

Meditation: A Practice for Caregivers To Help Keep Your Personal Well Full

The first time I actually tried to meditate, I thought I would wiggle a hole in my jeans. Still my mind, I could even sit still! I kept rationalizing that this stillness was bad for my arthritis but that argument went out the window as I found walking mediation frustrating and anxiety provoking. Imagine being subjected to the onslaught if all the thoughts in your head as you sit in silence.

I have often heard Pema Chodron say in her audiobooks that the goal of meditation is to make the space between two thoughts longer. The Tao Te Ching teaches that the empty form created by the spokes of a wheel is what provides strength and function for the wagon. So it seems that the lesson here is to understand that, much of what we need to function as a whole lies within our silent core.  

Silence or better yet, stillness is not something that Caregivers are often comfortable with experiencing. Caregivers are doers/fixers so it naturally follows that their comfort zone lies within the boundaries of being busy and joy is defined as the ability to multitask well. The paradox is that Caregivers view inactivity as wasteful and annoying but they often lament that they cannot wait for some “down time”.

It is not uncommon to hear Caregivers describe that “down time” as crashing. Family caregivers speak about crashing on the couch or bed at the end of the day. Many of my colleagues arrive to work on Monday describing how they crashed over the weekend. I am still guilty of this practice from time to time. The thing we need to contemplate is our need to drive ourselves to the point of exhaustion.

Is it superstition? If we don’t work till be drop, will something bad happen? Is it fear of what others might say about us? Is consistently pushing yourself beyond endurance really going to create positive gossip? Why is stopping or stepping aside to allow others to contribute; or do their share so uncomfortable? The answer is indeed, in the stillness where silence lives.

Sitting in silence takes courage and practice. However, what Caregivers initially lack in courage they usually can make up in discipline until they can access their courage. Preparing to meditate is actually easy:

·         Find a supportive space. Home, backyard, park, etc. Cell phones off. Stretch a bit to loosen tight muscles and add a little space between your joints.

·         Assume a comfortable sitting position on a meditative cushion (s) or a straight backed chair. Posture is important so that you can breathe easily.

·         Make sure that you are sitting on what I like to call your Butt Bones. These are actually the posterior processes of your pelvis.  It is important, if you are on a cushion, to position yourself so that your knees are lower than your hips. This will help to give a good straight alignment to your spine. Don’t exaggerate your alignment. Think strong back, soft front. Relax your jaw.

·         At first you may want to keep your eyes closed but try to work toward keeping your eyes softly fixed on a spot three feet in front of you.

·         Visualize a connection between you and the center of Mother Earth. This is import to anchoring you to the present moment and aiding you in remaining in your body.

·         Now breathe regular, comfortable breaths. You may find yourself yawning at times but just go with it. Keep your attention in your body and on your breath. If a part of your body becomes uncomfortable, gently adjust your position and breathe into that part of your body until you are more at easy.

·         Your mind will drift through thoughts. Realize that this is inevitable. The goal is to realize that you have left your body and moved into your head. Acknowledge this and move back into your body and focus on your breathing once more.

·         Start slow, perhaps five to ten minutes and work up to whatever works for you. Daily practice would be great. There is no room for self-criticism in meditation; only patience and loving kindness toward yourself as you slowly make the space between two thoughts longer.

I sincerely recommend trying stillness. Find the discipline to sit quietly and find the peace that can only be found at your core. You will discover that this sense of peacefulness will slowly fill up that internal well that we always draw from so that we can stay present and available to all we love and serve. The answers to so much are in that wonderful, peaceful, empty space.