“My caregiver mantra is to remember: the only control you have is over the changes you choose to make.” – Nancy L. Kriseman
Caring for a parent is not an easy road to travel, but it’s certainly worth every step. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life and I wouldn’t change a thing now.
I know it can be hard to find that perspective when you’re neck-deep in the day-to-day activities that are so exhausting.
If you’re ready to bust through your own overwhelm, my top tips on breaking through overwhelm are listed below.
Symptoms of overwhelm can be physical (nail biting, clumsiness, neck ache); psychological (forgetfulness, rudeness, defensiveness); social (poor hygiene, inadequate boundaries); or spiritual (loss of sense of purpose, unsure of what’s important).
Its triggers are just as individual: a deadline, a certain tone of voice, change.
Noticing these symptoms and triggers is like setting off the two-minute warning buzzer—giving you time to implement your proven intervention techniques.
Write down all the nurturing things you can think of to do when overwhelm begins to visit. They’ll help you reconnect with yourself, to re-collect and re-focus your energy inside. Keep a copy with you and one at home. When you begin to notice your particular symptoms and/or triggers, use the list to remind yourself of things that have worked in the past. Here are just a few suggestions. Be as creative as you want.
- Breathe. Remember the breath’s metaphor: Let in; let go.
- Wrap up in a blanket. Cuddle a doll.
- Dance alone, with or without music. Let your body lead the way.
- Listen to violin, cello or piano music. Let the music elicit tears.
- Light a candle. Maybe it’s one small candle at your work desk or lots of candles around your house.
- Watch a funny video. Laughter has a positive effect on brain chemistry.
- Ask for help. It’s a gift that allows others the opportunity to give.
- Go for a walk. Exercise increases adrenaline and endorphins, the body’s natural antidepressants.
- Lie on the grass outside. Connect with the earth’s regenerating powers.
- Go to your room—or your car—and sing to yourself. Or hum quietly as you work.
A practice of any kind can keep you tethered to yourself in those times when overwhelm wants to scatter your energy to the wind. Regularly repeated, these practices are best cultivated in times when things are going well so that they are there to sustain you when you get overwhelmed. Some examples:
- Say a small prayer, read a meditation book or recite a poem each morning to greet the day.
- Walk the dog while whispering all the things for which you forgive yourself.
- Write in a journal as fast as you can for 15 minutes first thing in the morning without editing or judging. Pour it all out on paper.
- Do some yoga stretches every morning after arising.
Feeling overwhelmed is a disheartening state of being and it’s very common during a season of caring but it doesn’t have to be your state. Take the steps it takes to bust it.
If you need more help than a few tips then let’s talk and see if coaching is a good fit for you!
Rayna Neises understands the joys and challenges that come from a season of caring. She helped care for both of her parents during their separate battles with Alzheimer’s over a thirty-year span. She is able to look back on those days now with no regrets – and she wishes the same for every woman caring for aging parents.
To help others through this challenging season of life, Rayna has written No Regrets: Hope for Your Caregiving Season, a book filled with her own heart-warming stories and practical suggestions for journeying through a caregiving season. Rayna is an ICF Associate Certified Coach with certifications in both Life and Leadership Coaching from the Professional Christian Coaching Institute.