Caregivers, we are pros at helping others, but do we seek help when we feel it’s necessary? The answer is most likely no. We thrive on being the helper and making the lives of others better and happier. From what I’m seeing working with myriad organizations during Covid, it’s not only others who need help. It’s all of us. Covid has robbed us of happiness, wellness, and optimism. We have lived in fear for the last couple of years and now, it’s time to kickstart our own happiness, wellness and optimism and share in life’s abundance. Living the Standards of Self-Care (eating nutritious food, sleeping well, exercising on a regular basis, supporting each other and mapping out our own goals for the future) need to be applied at the starting gate. After we have our Self-Care Plan to incorporate those behaviors and actions into our daily lives, it’s time to assess whether or not we need professional help to move us further along on the path to wellness. Contrary to what some believe, asking for help is a strength, not a weakness. Along with growing, changing and thriving, asking for help does the following:
Asking for help surrounds us with people who can help us feel better and promote our ability to heal and thrive.
Asking for help connects us to others, creating stronger communities and helps to build a healthier community, the workplace environment in particular.
Asking for help allows us to learn new coping skills to strengthen our resilience.
Asking for help shows courage and that we are strong enough to admit we don’t have all the answers.
Frank Oshberg, M.D., shared the following to help us understand compassion fatigue and how it takes hold of our body, mind and spirit: Compassion fatigue develops over time – taking weeks, sometimes years to surface. Over time, your ability to feel and care for others becomes eroded through overuse of your skills of compassion. You also might experience emotional blunting, lessening your usually high levels of compassion and empathy.
If this sounds familiar to you, take the advice of Pooh, the world’s most delightful bear, and head in the direction of getting the help you need to live your best life. You won’t be sorry.
A Trip to the Beach
Caregivers, this quote made me smile. I hope it does the same for you. The object of the post seems to be urging everyone to take some time off, which is a good message. I saw something else I'd like to share. When I present a training, the most well-received slides suggest a number of different strategies to promote self-care, manage compassion fatigue, stress or burnout symptoms, how to practice Psychological First Aid to others, or my favorite - next steps. I believe the reason participants mention these slides often is because the strategies listed offer choices. We are not cookie-cutter humans. This especially true of caregivers, personal or professional. Each one of us brings something very unique and beneficial to the caregiving environment. When we turn inward to refresh, revitalize, and rejuvenate, our needs are as varied as flavors of ice cream available to us on a summer day. I like to think participants will take some time and try different strategies on to see what fits most comfortably. The secret is to never give up. What isn't working today, can be a lifesaver tomorrow. Creating a "toolbox" full of coping skills to call on as the situation demands is always a Best Practice. Sharing our successes with others also helps to identify options. So, the next time you decide to give the beach a try, go do it. If it's too hot or too sandy, head for the mountains where the air is fresh and cool. The choice is always up to you.
Take the Stairs
Caregivers, given the challenging times we are going through, we might be facing a steep uphill battle to heal and return to a baseline wellness. The ups and downs of the past few years can impact our lives in the way we now perceive the meaning of life, our relationships and our sense of place. Negative patterns might have developed and created destructive and distressing elements in our lives, such as addiction, self-sabotage, and lack of control of our emotions. Experiencing these high levels of disruption can cause us to react in negative and harmful ways if we don’t tend to our threadbare bodies and emotions.
Each one of us must make the decision to do whatever is necessary to let go of past pain and suffering, and allow our lives to move forward in a caring, loving and kind way. We must reignite our passions in life, and accept that, in healing, we are whole once again. It takes work, but the rewards are well worth the efforts.
Our need to heal and recover is very real and has never been more dire and timely. Never has there been a more consequential time than now to introduce the Healing Arts into our lives.
In a nutshell, a Healing Art is a creative practice that promotes healing, wellness, self-regulation and personal change. The Healing Arts include art, music, writing & reading, meditation & mindfulness, dance/movement/drama, nature, gardens & gardening, pet therapy and culinary arts. Spending time engrossed in any of these activities translates to the self-care that enhances our sense of wellbeing and happiness. It is within these simple, yet profound, modes of human actions that we surrender our trauma and embrace the higher quality of life we were meant to live.
The Healing Arts are all encompassing, holistic. They engage body, mind and spirit in tandem. Healing Arts call into play the five senses that color our earthly presence: hear, smell, see, taste, touch. With these five senses at work, we heal naturally, both at the superficial level known as enjoyment and pleasure, but also at a deep life-altering cellular level.
Nature as Healer
Caregivers, if you doubt that the beauty of the wilderness, nature in all its glory, is healing, consider the following quote from author Terry Tempest Williams. “Wilderness is an antidote to the war within ourselves. I return to the wilderness to remember what I have forgotten, that the world can be wholesome and beautiful, that the harmony and integrity of ecosystems at peace is a mirror to what we have lost.”
Was there ever a statement that hits at the core of what we have experienced during this pandemic? We’ve lost our world and our lives as we knew them. We've lost the beauty of our everyday rituals that keep us grounded and forward looking. We’ve lost the security of knowing that integrity and harmony still exist in the minds and hearts of those we expect to lead us. Simply put, we’ve lost our way.
Williams offers us a way back home. Nature, especially wilderness, beckons us to join in the beauty that is by definition, natural. Seeking out this truth leads to soothing our grief, returning to the roots of our wellbeing, and repairing the damage the pandemic inflicted on our body, mind and spirit.
The health benefits humanity receives from nature are well-documented. In her book "The Nature Fix," author Florence Williams takes it a step further. She wrote, “We don’t experience natural environments enough to realize how restored they can make us feel, nor are we aware that studies also show they make us healthier, more creative, more empathetic and more apt to engage with the world and with each other. Nature, it turns out, is good for civilization.”
Next time someone recommends you take a hike, do it! Could be the best thing that's happened to you in a long time.
Thoughts From Our Founder
Check here for updates and thoughts from CFAP founder Patricia Smith.
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