Balancing the needs of your loved one, while honoring your needs as well, is key to a healthy and lasting caregiver experience. But when caregiving persists for month or years, that’s easier said than done. The Hour of Power can refresh your caregiving soul.
I know what you are thinking.
“I don’t have time to take care of myself, I can’t even leave the house.”
“There is no one to help me. I have no time to think about caring for me.”
“I’m too overwhelmed to take on one more thing.”
Maybe you are even thinking, “Please don’t tell me I need to do one more thing.”
I hear you.
You are consumed with taking care of your loved one’s pain and suffering. But as a caregiver, you are at risk for suffering too. In fact, both people living with chronic disease and their caregivers are at risk for poor physical or mental health. But it goes even deeper than that.
Physical and Nonphysical Dimensions of Health
A healthy life is more than your physical health. Wellbeing is the interaction and balance of physical, mental, social, spiritual, and financial health. To live as well as possible, we need to give time and attention to all areas of wellness. This is true even when you are living with difficult circumstances.
For example, caregivers often experience stress, anxiety, anger, or grief when they care for a loved one. The result is poor mental well-being. As caregiving persists for months or years, there is less time to see friends and social circles shrink (social health). Caregivers may struggle to find peace or meaning in a loved one’s suffering (spiritual health). Expenses may skyrocket, leading to poor financial health. These nonphysical dimensions of suffering can lead to physical problems in the caregiver. For instance, high blood pressure, weight gain, a weakened immune system, or fatigue.
As a caregiver, you are at risk for nonphysical and physical suffering too. So, taking care of yourself isn’t a cliché.
But what if you don’t have time? Or you can’t leave the house?
The Hour of Power
The Hour of Power is an idea I read about in Jack Canfield’s book, The Success Principles. You can also read about the Hour of Power here. Canfield takes 3 activities that feed his soul – help with his physical, mental, and emotional health – and practices them each morning. For him, exercise, meditation and reading uplifting books help him be the person he wants to be. So, each morning he engages in each activity for 20 minutes to create his Hour of Power.
In his words, the Hour of Power is, “extremely effective in centering you, uplifting you, and helping you create a powerful, positive day.”
Does a power hour to refresh your caregiving soul sound impossible to you? First, consider if that is true. In last week’s blog I talked about time management. Understanding where we spend our time can give us clarity on those things that are most important to us. Managing your time can also reveal what is least important to do. So, those things you can leave for another day or give up all together.
For example, we watch television at night to unwind. Many nights, we might sit there for 2-3 hours. That adds up to 14-21 hours a week watching television. How much value is added to your life when you watch tv?
What if you took an hour of television time and created your own Hour of Power instead? Exercise for 20 minutes. (If you can’t leave the house, walk inside or outside the house.) Then, pick another activity that helps you care for your mental, social, emotional, or spiritual health. Read an uplifting or interesting book. Practice 20 minutes of meditation or tonglen. Journal or do a “thought download” where you write down every negative thought in your mind. Or, other ideas include:
- make a list of what’s important to get done that day
- tidy up a spot in the house that has been driving you crazy
- practice thinking about the things that have gone well that day or week
- repeat positive thoughts to yourself.
Do whatever you need to do to feed your soul. Do those activities that help with your physical and mental well-being.
If you know 60 minutes a day is not workable, tweak the idea so it works better for you. Thirty minutes a day might work better. So, in that case, pick 2 activities instead of 3 that will give you the boost you are looking for. Alternatively, try the Hour of Power 2-3 times a week instead of every day. As you try it, you may find that even a couple of times a week gives you benefit. Or, you may realize it is more doable than you thought and you find more days to do it.
The details of how long or how frequent are not the most important. What is most important is realizing the need and value in taking care of yourself.
So, what will your Hour of Power look like?
Visit The Chronic Wellness Coach website for more articles like this.