Day: July 6, 2020

Enough Bubble Baths. Enough Wine. Here’s what Coronavirus Self-Care really Looks Like.

Over the past few months, we have faced unprecedented times and experienced dramatic changes that may have undoubtedly altered the rest of our personal and professional lives.

From the lack of social interaction to conducting business online and facing financial crisis, these past few months have not been easy. In fact, it is an understatement to say that dealing with the ripples of COVID-19 hasn’t been an easy feat.

However, with a little effort and a lot of self-care, it is possible to move forward as true warriors during this time.

In this era, a true warrior must acknowledge that self-care is more than a bubble bath and a glass of wine. A true warrior understands that self-care does not mean self-indulgence.

 

On the way to feeling better and moving forward, we may go through irritating stages of discomfort. Just like with any loss, we may experience denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But, in order to bounce back, we must strive to actively and thoughtfully move forward.

 

So, instead of sitting back and waiting to work out all the details, it is vital that we take matters into our own hands. We need to start taking care of our mental, emotional, and physical health now so that we can improve our current situation and enhance our future experiences. If we don’t do something to actively change our mindset, it won’t change by itself.

 

 

Self-care, for starters, gives us permission to fully explore and release ourselves from this idea of perfectionism and what they call “people-pleasing” syndrome.

 

 

As women, saying yes to yourself can be challenging. But, it’s not impossible; it just takes practice and discipline. It requires us to have respect for ourselves and honoring our mind, body, and soul a little bit more.

So, what is keeping us from the mindset we should and want to have? Fear of the future?

 

Wait—fear of the future? When you live your life thinking of what could happen before it even happens, it slowly affects your mind, body, and spirit. Phrases such as, “I can’t do it” and “What if this happens?” take over your whole well-being before you even notice it.

 

 

In order to advance and benefit from our experiences, we must train ourselves to be capable of going from one breakdown to another without losing our self-love and respect. This is what reconstructs a sense of wellness within us.

 

Personal and social challenges throughout our lives impact the way we view the world, causing many of us to react in unhealthy ways. This reaction includes self-sabotage, addiction, relationship problems, and lack of control, among many others.

 

 

The Four-Step Approach to Transformation

 

In order to speed up the process to better cope as the best version of yourself, here are some self-care tips to help you move forward having a more balanced mind, body, and spirit. Deciding that you are worth the effort and the time is especially important during these times and for the future.

 

1. A gratitude practice is part of our self-care routine.

 

We will most likely never feel comfortable standing close to people we don’t know. We may never feel comfortable in public places the way we used to. It may take a long time to all gather without the thought of getting sick.

But, in order to yield good results, we must consciously shift and count our blessings.

 

Researchers have been starting to document how the practice of gratitude is tied to improving our mental health. Adopting the practice of gratitude as a habit can shift the perception we have of the world and those around us. By embracing our positive emotions and focusing on the moments in life that are filled with grace, it will help us connect to something larger than ourselves.

 

Gratitude is simply having the appreciation for what we receive. When we emphasize and train ourselves to look for the positive things in life, we acknowledge the goodness in our lives—whether palpable or impalpable.

When we feel positive, joyous, and appreciative of our ability to deal with adversity in healthier ways, our mental health improves drastically. This self-care practice can be applied to the past (positive memories and past blessings), the present (not taking life for granted), and the future (keeping an optimistic and hopeful attitude).

This simple practice is powerful.

 

 By cultivating the habit of gratitude, you learn to appreciate what you have instead of waiting to be happy. Redirecting your focus in what you have instead of what you lack is a beautiful and mighty self-care practice.

 

2. Sleep is part of our self-care routine.

 

Keeping watch like a trusty guard dog and watching TV series until wee hours of the night have been big parts of this pandemic. We don’t even realize how those episodes of late-night watching, binging, and ongoing episodes are affecting our brain’s health.

Habits that sabotage our sleep schedule are the last thing our brain needs. The fact that we are feeding our brain with things that are not expanding our mind is bad enough, not to mention the fact we are robbing our bedtime routine of a relaxing experience. By training our brain to suppress levels of melatonin, we are training our bodies to run low on tiredness, which is linked to irritability.

 

Setting some ground rules is the beginning of a great self-care practice.

 

It is important that we become diligent in setting positive habits conducive to moving forward. It is crucial to create a relaxing, almost dependable bedtime routine. It is essential to create habits that discourage activities that can lead to anxiety or high emotional responses. Going to bed at a reasonable hour is just one of the ways to commit to your needs that will in turn create healthier habits.

 

3. Connecting with others by using a transformational vocabulary is part of our self-care routine.

 

Words play a big role in how we feel. Labeled experiences become our experiences.

There is no denying the fact that we have been experiencing a lot of overwhelming emotions, and one of the coping mechanisms we have leaned on is venting. Talking about our fears and worries has become the new norm. Of course, anyone can argue that the way we respond to this time of uncertainty can depend on many factors.

In the interest of moving forward, taking care of how we communicate can help us cope with stress in a healthier way. By understanding the risks of sharing stressful and negative information, you can instead learn to share in a calm manner and confidently provide the best support to others.

 

Reassuring ourselves that this situation will not last forever is a comforting way of engaging in self-care. With every reaction, there is an action and an emotion that we could have had instead. Choosing to act differently has a potent effect in the way feel about ourselves and others.

Committing to eliminate at least four lousy words that are not serving you well and switching them for four empowering words is one of the most effective ways to practice self-care.

The words we attach to our experiences create our habits and patterns. As we move forward, we want to create a better, certain, safe, optimistic place within us.

 

Instead of saying, “This is hard,” try saying, “This is inconvenient.” And in place of, “I am a failure,” try, “I have learned.” Carrying out the decision to evaluate what we are thinking and what we are saying gives us the power to serve ourselves with love and respect.

 

4. Moving our bodies is part of a self-care routine.

 

Somehow, alcohol, drugs, and food—like other reckless or addictive behaviors—have led us to self-recrimination and depression during this pandemic. Making new habits, in order to move forward, can be a great investment to our well-being.

 

By choosing to improve our health, we understand that exercise has a great impact on our lives. Moving our body is the ultimate self-care routine.

 

Exercise can enhance our physical health and helps us feel better emotionally. Neglecting our health at the expense of this time of uncertainty is dangerous for many reasons.

 

Moving our bodies with intention brings out the better and healthier version of us. When you think of moving your body or exercising, you should be celebrating that your body is able to move, as many are not able to. We tend to see life as we are and not as it is. The fact that we can move our body is a gift.

Finding a consistent health care routine is one of the most selfless acts. Exercising regularly will make you more focused and present as a human being.

 

In order to move forward, committing to a 30-minute moving routine is the recipe for success. It does not matter if it is cardio, weight training, aerobics, water exercise, a run, or a walk—your overall health and mood will improve.

 

When we set achievable goals, we grow confident every time we accomplish the set goals. Thirty minutes every day is an achievable goal. Adding exercise into our day will increase our chances of experiencing a healthier life.

Certainly, we are facing unprecedented and dramatic changes, but we have the power to decide to move forward for our own well-being. We can control how we react and how we come out of this experience.

 

As true warriors, we must take care of ourselves. Preparing and training for a victorious win should be our ultimate goal. Taking care of our basic needs is the first step to relieving the stress upon us.

 

Yes, self-care goes beyond a bubble bath and a glass of wine. Self-care is caring for your mind, body, and spirit. It equips you with the best habits and patterns to live your life to the fullest—in all seasons of life.

  

The Road to Light:

An excerpt from the book "A Warrior of Light: A Guide of Inner Wisdom for Challenging Times"

The words were whispered gently, but the strength of these words was as clear as Maya Angelou’s message:

“Courage is the most important of all virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”

My job was not to protect anybody from pain. Please remember these words: your job is not to protect people from pain! Attempting to do this could only bring you a sense of failure and unworthiness, which do not empower you.

 

To say that I somehow put myself together is to put it politely. I was demolished and looked like a wreck. My mascara was smudged on my face, and I had wiped mucus and goo all over myself, my clothes, and even my hair. This mix of tears and snot streamed from my nose like a sticky web. The curious spectators had no other choice but to encounter the most horrifying, atrocious image of me. I can smile about it now, but I remember sitting and asking, “How am I going to get it together? How am I going to get home? Once at home, how am I going to manage my role as a wife, my role as a mother, and the role of a daughter again?

 

 

How am I going to take a vacation with my husband? How am I going to be spontaneously intimate with my husband again?” My circumstances were hard, yet I was making it so much harder by welcoming the voice of fear. Why was I doing that? You want to know the truth? I knew the answer: I was afraid to even attempt to make decisions.

 

 

Suddenly, I remember doing what I usually do when I am stuck at a crossroads, facing a series of hurdles, something I learned at a very young age! Back in middle school, I ran relay races.

 

See, I was a good runner. I was long, thin, fast, and knew and believed in my potential and abilities to run, yet I was not the strongest. I developed hypoglycemia at a young age, so resistance was not my strength, and if I allowed my nerves to take over my emotions, I was totally out of the race. Thoughts of, what if I don’t make it? What if I am not good enough? What if I don’t feel well the day of the race, and I let everybody down? raced through my mind. If I didn’t participate, I wouldn’t have to deal with the feeling of failure of feeling like the sick loser.

 

 

I don’t remember when or how I developed these tricks and keys to auto boost my emotions and my body for the performance, but I did. It was pretty magical. I would mentally make myself tough and healthy and imagined myself standing on the starting line, ready, pumped, and mighty strong, and I would mentally say, “Ready, Set, Go.” I could hear the starter pistol fire and could make myself smell and see the smoke of the gun, and I would run so strong while repeating the words, “I am Strong, I am Light, I can do this.” I would repeat these words until I felt invincible. I imagined myself running and passing the baton with great precision.

 

Little did I know, I was learning to program my Inner Warrior. I was pushing myself out of my head and into action to change the outcome of things. And always, without fail, I finished the vision by giving thanks to God because He didn’t let me let my team down.

 

 

I truly believe that when you think like this, you win the race no matter what. You may not always win, but finishing is always an incredible feeling. So, that’s what I did. Something so familiar to me, and as I visualized myself feeling strong with a quick “Ready, Set, Go . . . I am Strong, I am Light, I can do this,” I went home.

The job of my Inner Warrior is meant to bring light to my soul by deepening the essence of it.

 

 

I needed to not compromise my soul’s integrity. It seemed difficult to access this level of understanding. Of course, getting caught up in the ups and downs of what we are experiencing every day becomes a routine. How can I radiate goodness and patience so I could really be of help to my soul and thus to everyone around me? I needed to bypass the mental torment that comes with being codependent. I had to save myself from feeling undeserving and feeling responsible for situations, feelings, and tasks I was not responsible for.

 

 

Working with integrity to find peace within my own heart, mind, and body ultimately granted me the freedom to share the peace with my mom and those around me. So I went to the single thing most known to produce magical results: gratitude. Often, in the deepest state of gratitude is when I get the great sense of awareness that I am one with life. I know I am not exempt from the twists of life; however, taking the time to be fully present creates wonderful results in my ability to connect with genuine, loving gratitude.

 

 

Once again, there was not a better time to realign myself and to appreciate everything around me. Just by the simple act of expressing gratitude, I notice my emotions and mood transform dramatically. Finding reasons to feel thankful for this disease was challenging, but slowly I found a handful of reasons to be grateful.

 

Taking action takes courage. I came to realize that as a true experience, the only way to enjoy my mom again was to disconnect from what she used to be and create or mold a new path, a new model, a whole new relationship.

How was I going to create a new path in such a demanding life with family and work obligations and all the other things life had pending for me? Simple: restore my relationship with myself. In order to be happy, I had to concentrate on myself.

 

— Published on May 11, 2020

 

 

 

Four points to consider when making caregiving decisions: How to make healthy choices for your loved one, and yourself

Oftentimes, many of us, when making decisions as caregivers, tend to leave out a vital factor – ourselves. Caregiving for our loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s makes our role as the decision maker even more emotionally demanding. As the disease progresses, more decisions seem to pile up. As time goes by, we forget that we are the most important part of any decision making.

 

There is no denying the many responsibilities that come along with caring for our loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s. From cost of medications, treatments, finding help, to feasibility, time management, time constraint, to simply understanding what our loved ones really want – it becomes a lot. Considering all these things takes time, making it very difficult to realize that how we feel should also be included. When making a caregiver’s decisions, it is of essential importance that we take everything into consideration, including ourselves.

 

As our loved ones face yet a new phase into the disease, many of us become challenged by the idea of finding ways to help us with the care. One fantastic way to help, bringing great benefit to them as well, is considering an adult day health care facility. Adult care facilities have many advantages. Many of these day health care facilities provide many dementia/Alzheimer’s patients with increased community socialization, cognitive stimulation, and a completely different environment by simply taking them out of their house. Consequently, it is a great way to provide the caregiver with a well-deserved break. This break can be used to run errands, meet with friends whom we rarely have a chance to see, go to our own appointments, or just take a breather.

 

Clearly, there will be many times that our loved ones’ mindset may be very negative. Their objections can and will play many tricks on our brain and may even cause feelings of frustration, negative self-talk, or auto criticism. Not to mention the questions and feelings of guilt attached to the financial expenses. However, when the question “How can I make my loved one go somewhere he or she is not comfortable with, just so we have time for ourselves?” arises, it is the precise moment when we must aim the focus back on us and our wellbeing. 

 

When facing difficult decisions as a caregiver, here are a few things to consider: 

 

1. Remember that considering ourselves and our emotional needs is healthy

When we include ourselves in consideration of all the factors that involve taking care of our loved ones with dementia/Alzheimer’s, we are able to understand the importance of our own wellbeing. When looking at it as if we were advising our very best friend or perhaps our adult child, we come to realize that we deserve to be part of the final decision making. When making decisions for our loved ones with dementia/Alzheimer’s, we owe it to ourselves to ask better questions. This in turn, will allow us to calm down the intensity of our negative self-talk and auto criticism. Hence, here are the questions we should allow ourselves to explore, when making decisions for our loved ones.

2. Ask yourself “Will the decision give us time to focus on our health?”

When dementia care is battled or resisted by our loved ones, asking ourselves if the decision will allow us time to focus on our health, can make us see the situation from a different perspective. As the disease progresses, so will the needs of our loved ones. If our health is not optimal and/or we are not purposely making sure we are in good health, we could not be responsible caregivers. Having good health will make things easier for us and, of course, for them. Remembering that high levels of stress have impact on our health is vital. 

3. Ask yourself “Will the decision give us time to refresh?”

Caring for our loved ones, not only brings high levels of stress to our lives, but may bring feelings of grief. Having proper time to acknowledge and cope with moments of grief is healthy. Learning how to cope in a healthy fashion with the feelings that accompany the grief of losing that loved one to dementia should not be overlooked. Talking to someone about these feelings, including burnouts, helps us reset our outlook on life, thus allowing us to be more calmed when dealing with our loved ones.

4. Ask yourself “Will the decision allow us to connect with others and do things we have been wanting to do?”

Connecting with other people in our lives is crucial – people like our own spouses who we may be neglecting due to exhaustion, friends or family members who perhaps we have not been able to talk to or visit, can bring a boost of joy to our lives. The question if our caregiving can improve by taking time to socialize more and actually spending time enjoying ourselves can empower us to be more compassionate and impactful. So much good can come from adding ourselves in the consideration of different ways of caring for our loved ones. 


Looking at the years ahead in our future and how using some help in caring for our loved ones can benefit us, should not be overlooked. Considering what our loved ones want and feel is as important as what WE need. Viewing ourselves as equally important while caring for them is perhaps the best way to honor our health, our well-being and them. We are an equal part of the consideration when making crucial and significant caregiver decisions. 

Stop Wondering If You Are A ‘Good Caregiver’

Loving and caring for someone with dementia can be challenging. Perhaps, it is one of the most challenging struggles one will ever encounter. No one can predict if or when their loved one, especially a parent, will be diagnosed with dementia. But, in a blink of an eye, it happens. Without much warning, our world gets turned upside down.

 

The responsibilities ahead are new and different, which makes the experience much more difficult. Not knowing what we are getting into creates fear within us and causes us to worry about the future. We start worrying, not only for ourselves but for our loved ones, too. Doubting whether or not we are “good caregivers” is something that can destroy our self-esteem.

 

There is an incredible amount of questions that bombard our minds daily. It is haunting not knowing how much longer we will be caring for our loved one. We get filled with uncertainties like wondering where, when, and how are the best ways to help. These uncertainties are accompanied by feelings of guilt for losing our temper and/or wishing it all come to an end. Caring for someone with dementia is exhausting and complicated. Often, we feel overwhelmed by a feeling of exasperation when our loved one insists on not showering or insists on continuing to drive, or by blaming us for their struggles.

 

It may feel difficult or cruel when we repeatedly correct our loved one’s behavior or try to convince them of something. At the same time, we realize how our relationships with others start slipping away. Suddenly we get reminded as if we’ve just received an app reminder notification, that we have stopped devoting time to the things we love and enjoy.

 

The feelings of frustration and depression associated with caring for our loved ones with dementia are undeniable. Undoubtedly, it does not make sense at the beginning. However, to help improve our loved ones with dementia, we must better ourselves first.

 

Even when it feels inconceivable, we, caregivers, do the best we can under extremely challenging situations. Doing our best requires constant curiosity and the commitment to embrace the habit of keeping our minds open. How often do we beat ourselves up? Criticism comes in three different kinds of ways. Destructive criticism, constructive criticism, and the one caregivers tend to identify with the most, self criticism.

 

In considering a better, more nurturing way to talk to ourselves, changing the voice to one of a cheerleader, or parent who thinks we are the best thing in the face of the earth, can improve how we view ourselves. The best way to stop ourselves from being our own worst critic is by not doubting whether we are “good enough.”

 

Napoleon once said, “The person who never makes a mistake will never make anything.” Certainly, as caregivers to a loved one suffering from dementia, we will make many mistakes. Making mistakes is the way we enhance the quality of who we are and how we care. By beating ourselves up, we not only make our life more difficult but the life of our loved ones, too. Therefore, we must have a positive outlook to maintain our loved one as calm and happy as possible.

 

To improve ourselves and our loved ones, we must discern some key and elemental things about the disease. By committing to understanding why our loved ones seem to purposefully want to disagree and contend with us, we can improve our negative self-talk. Understanding why they act the way they do will comfort us. Feeling drained by the situation is not healthy for anyone, instead, try to develop feelings and thoughts of willingness to make positive changes.

1. Understanding Why They Treat Others Better

Our loved ones are not in denial, nor are they being stubborn; they have a “lack of awareness or lack of insight.” This state is called anosognosia, which refers to a “person’s lack of awareness of their own motor, visual, or cognitive deficits.” Since they are not capable of being aware of their brain problem, they see us as the enemy who is getting in their way from doing what they want, instead of seeing us as the person who is helping them.

When we decide to understand what is happening with the disease process, then we will understand that we must retire the term ‘’good caregiver” and replace it for “doing the best job we can.”

 

 

2. Communication Is Key To Keeping The Peace

First off, do not highlight their weaknesses. Our loved ones with dementia are not capable of stepping back to look at any factors from a clear perspective.

Also, laying off arguing, correcting, or reasoning with our loved ones with dementia can allow us to start a new way of communicating and relating with them.

Keeping in mind that happiness is linked to how others treat us can help us keep the peace. Learning to communicate in a new way with your loved ones and ourselves will give us a new sense of compassion and will allow the situation to improve.

3. Leave Some Things Alone

Before correcting our loved ones, let’s remember to take a step back and ask ourselves if we can avoid making our loved ones feel bad. Is it necessary to correct them?

More than likely, it is better to save that energy and put it towards something more important. Let’s ask ourselves, is it kinder to just agree with them to not cause them any more anxiety, worry, or pain? Agreeing or lying to your loved one for their mental benefit is a form of compassion. Understanding what they want relieves pain and heartache from our loved one.

Our caregiving journey will have many hardships along the way. It is up to us to decide which struggles are best to leave alone. At the end of the day, there is no need to correct or challenge them, as long as their safety is not at risk. No one likes to be reminded of what we can’t do, right?

Aiming towards behaviors that can alleviate our loved one’s anxiety, sadness, and anger will teach us a lot about them, and in turn, make it easier for us to understand their needs and desires.

When we communicate with the intent to relieve their anxiety, instead of correcting them, we realize we are good caregivers. Certainly, we are doing the best we can under extreme circumstances. Reframing and rewiring our self-talk, the unempowering questions, and the desire to correct is the beginning of appreciating the great job we do.

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