The Caregiver Dilemma: Self-Care

caregiver,mindfulness, wellness, work

Working Wellness Into Your Day is the Caregiver Dilemma

The sun, earth and moon are aligned today and the spring tides reveal the mind altering hidden beauty at the shore then in high drama 6 hours later crash, cover and rinse the beach completely.  It’s lovely late February and Spring energy is calling all buds, bulbs and grasses in the Northern Hemisphere to appear. Seasonal renewal can be heard in bird song, felt in the warming sun and sensed in blessed lengthening days.


Taking care of this, that, the other thing and anything else that come’s up without sensing your connection to Earth and Nature can lead to a mind bending, back bending addiction: borderline chronic overwhelm. It feels fulfilling for a while. That’s until pinched nerves, a pinched career, and a pinched for time presence all become your M.O. It’s the Caregivers Dilemma.

Days and lives booked at full capacity for the needs of others are too short for self-care. Wait! Isn’t self-care a caregivers saving grace?

Successful, healthy and inspired caregivers must solve their caregiver


Ann was raised in family that made life feel like war. She worked,  she fought, and tried to defend herself in an environment of minimal support or encouragement. Although as an adult she loved her nursing career in the cancer ward she felt chronically depleted. There was always one more battle to fight.  She felt her capacity for empathy weakening as her frustrations deepened. With two young children and a husband in the military, Ann said she felt that she needed to remain strong and brave to get through.


We chatted. I asked: “What does strong and brave look like? When you “get through” where will you be?”

Ann looked startled. “Well … I thought that strong and brave was staying the course no matter what. Now that I look at it, I have no idea where I’ll be. I guess I hope that life will get easier and better.”

“OK”, I said, “Let’s look at the idea of “staying the course”. What is the course?  Who chooses the course? Is it permanent?  Where does it lead?  Can it be changed?”

Ann looked down at her notebook, out the window for few minutes, tears welled in her eyes and then she looked at me. “I think I understand.” She said, the “course” is how I’ve chosen to live. The course is made up by me. The course is a story I believe. It seems hard but I guess it’s something I could change. I’m not sure how to do that.”

“At first, Ann, it may require radical letting go to reverse your sense of overwhelm as a caregiver, a role you love. Even though “mindfulness” isn’t something you can exactly measure moment to moment like your steps and heart rate, the results of mindfulness can be quantified.  It’s how you think and feel, moment to moment. The surefire way to mindfulness is letting go of everything except the present moment. It isn’t what you are doing but rather how you are doing it that’s the issue. It’s really quite simple. Have you ever noticed a driver on the freeway executing a breathtaking route darting in an out of lanes, honking and scowling at drivers going the speed limit, hand gesturing, slamming on his brakes, tailgating, texting, talking out loud to himself as if he’s racing his body to the next restroom?”

“Oh, no kidding, yes and that scares me.”

“Once the adrenaline wears off and any other high generating substance fades how does that person feel?”

“I get it.”

“Be the driver i.e. the person who lives knowing where she is in space and time, enjoying the drive, and maybe even the scenery. It isn’t hard to become aware of the colors of the sky, the horizon, the trees and lay of the land and the season. This will take practice. It’s a new way of being you…connected in the best way. People lose buckets of energy blocking their full presence in the present moment. Full presence in a moment includes the rest of the world and Nature too.  It’s as if you think that if being too present in this moment, too open to enjoying this moment, or that if without moving at mach speed on fumes and closed down to everything but what’s in your head,  then things won’t get done without you. The reality is that’s a crash course and short cut to the feeling you don’t have anything left and their isn’t  enough of you to go around.”

Ann smiled. “OK. I do want to be strong and brave …but in a different way… a way that’s about living my life in a self-care way. That’s definitely a new course. I’m going to share this with the patients I care for. Thanks, I have a feeling that good things are coming together.”

That’s wonderful Ann. Listen, life is short whether you are just getting through it or truly living it. Mother Nature doesn’t care if you are wearing pajama pants and flip-flops, she is going to do what she does with rain, snow, sunshine, storm, hail, gale, tornado, and flood. After that there are always the dishes to do! You always get to decide how you show up, how you do what you do and connect. “


Does your self-care need a boost? If so, BRIGHTERSTEP is a risk free web app that you can use to kindle your self-care, turn up the volume on your inner coach, and begin your days on the right note. is designed to help solve the Caregivers dilemma. It’s structure, reminders and reflection processes recall mindfulness, self-care and intention to the caregiver’s mind. The rest is up to you!

Have questions? Connect with me.



Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply