By Wendy Johnstone, Provincial Program Consultant and Gerontologist with Family Caregivers of BC
We hear and validate the stories of caregivers all across BC. Caregiving offers many rewards, however, at times and currently, it can feel and be really challenging. It asks a lot of you. Our conversations with caregivers lead to a range of concerns some of the merging themes are:
- I am caring for someone 24/7 and I find myself feeling rattled, impatient (even when I know it’s normal), not finding time for a break.
- I am battling my own chronic illness while caring for my adult daughter with physical limitations and depression.
- I used to see my mom every day in assisted living and now I can’t. I have been consumed with listening to the news and unsure on how to re-adjust to this new state of living.
- I am trying to balance my work demands with family life and we are all trapped in the same household!
Why set an intention?
- It can be a way of coaching or supporting yourself, finding a piece of personal safety.
- Having a personal mantra or little supportive reminders helps to nurture and support yourself.
- It can aid you while caring for another person, but ultimately support you in caring for yourself.
- Helps clarify what is most important for the day or in a moment.
- It gives you permission and time to step back for a moment; to check in with yourself or to consider how you want to show up before taking on an interaction or task.
- It encourages and activates self-awareness – take a moment to pause and step back and observe your actions, attitudes, or emotions.
- It can keep you from getting swept away in a pool of the negative nellies or behaviours; and helps us move to self-compassion, reflection, and self-care.
How to find direction and focus
- Setting an intention can help you avoid getting stuck in the challenge or situation, and it also supports you in remembering what is important to you.
- Focusing on an intention allows you to meet a circumstance or behaviour with more understanding, perspective, empathy, or patience.
- Setting an intention helps to focus and calm your mind, it allows you to stay grounded when the world around you is chaotic or uncertain (think balance work and family at home).
- An example of an intention could be to take a pause from media for the morning or focus on conscious breathing when your mind gets fixed on negative thoughts.
How to set an intention
- Setting an intention is personal to you, which means you get to decide if it’s a word, sentence or phrase that means something to you currently (it does not need to be profound short, sweet and simple is key).
- There is no wrong way to set an intention. The aim is to consider what is important to you right now or something that you are aiming to cultivate (this is different than making a goal).
- You do not need to share this with anyone, it can be an internal mantra or safe place just for you.
- Practice daily, it helps with consistency, but if you forget one day no worries, just start again!
- For some caregivers, we have heard that taking 5 minutes first thing in the morning seems to be the best time.
- Write it in a journal, put it on a sticky note on your mirror, text a trusted friend and ask them to check in during the day, repeat your personal mantra, meditate with it as a focal point for 5-minutes.
- For some caregivers, taking 5-minutes at the end of day to check in helps give personal feedback. What was a win for today? What did I learn today? Would I do anything different tomorrow? (Insert a healthy dose of self-compassion!).