Yesterday I had the fortune of conducting a special 3-hour workshop on Self-care for a group of caregivers which turned out to be an excellent learning experience for me.
Caregiving is catching on in a big way since Singapore is an increasing ageing population and a developed nation with a staggering health care cost. As such many of caregiving responsibilities fall on the family members such as the spouse, sibling or children. More than 50% of caregivers are women. In USA, although 75% of the current caregivers feel they are capable of giving care, 49% feel overwhelmed, 36% report experiencing depression, and 65% have not had a vacation for the past one year. This statistics showed that caregiving can be a challenging responsibility which is not for the faint-hearted.
A caregiver is usually defined as someone who provides care. To me, the most appropriate definition is simply “someone who chooses to care.” I am reminded of the quote by the former First Lady of USA, Rosalyn Carter. She said:
“There are 4 kinds of people in the world:-
Those who have been caregivers
Those who currently are caregivers
Those who will be caregivers and
Those who will need caregivers” ~ Rosalyn Carter
To care for others is such a beautiful thing to do. However, without adequate support and the right inner space, caregivers often find themselves unable to cope with the demands at the physical, emotional and mental levels that they begin to suffer from stress and ill health. This hinders the quality of care they are able to provide to the people they are caring for. To care effectively, caregivers need to understand their own emotions such as worry and guilt and how to ensure their own well-being. I’ve found that the spiritual teachings and solutions from my master, Paramahamsa Nithyananda (fondly known as Swamiji) work wonders in helping one to be a compassionate and effective caregiver.
Here are seven practical self-care tips for caregivers:
- Build a strong healthy body. Your body is the vehicle for your dreams and achievements in the outer world. A strong physical body is required to handle the unexpected stress of care giving. If you maintain a daily yoga practice, it will provide such great support by giving you the physical, emotional and mental strength and flexibility.
- Care without worries & stress. Worries are food for the mind and they are magnified by the mind by creating constant negative inner chatter. The answer to go beyond worries lies in becoming aware of our inner chatter and the illogical workings of our mind. Meditation is the key to developing the awareness. As we start to create a distance between our inner chatter and ourselves, through becoming ‘the watcher’. We can observe without being affected by it. The moment we observe the chatter, we will stop taking it seriously and begin to become aware of the flow of Existence and the possibility of living with intuition as our guide, instead of with the logic of the mind. Then we are no longer under the control of the mind and its illogical decision-making processes. We can then be free from worries because we are no longer worrying about them. The watcher knows that it is futile to try to control the mind or to resist worries and that the key is to merely stand back and become the observer. When this happens, when we don’t empower the habit of worrying, worrying will stop automatically. In this way, we will begin to live in peace, instead of in constant anxiety. Life will begin to flow instead of being a struggle.
• Stop the guilt. Guilt is the sure killer of intelligence, one should never entertain guilt in the inner space. Guilt comes when we are using the updated intelligence to judge our past actions. When you live your life with 4 spiritual values of integrity, authenticity, responsibility and enriching, guilt cannot touch you.
• Live in the present – NOW. When you are in the present, you will feel and enjoy Existence. Only when the present is on you, you will feel light. Focus your energy on the person in front of you, the task at hand. You will automatically be in the flow of Existence.
• Hold a space of love and possibilities. A lot of time the person whom you are caring for only wants your presence and listening because whatever medical intervention required for that person is already taken care of by the doctors. Just being there for him or her by helping them experience the healing energy of love and holding a space of possibilities for them can do wonders in relaxing them for the transitioning of life processes.
• Care from the space of completion. If the caregivers are taught the Science of completion given by Swamiji, they will be able to solve all problems in life, not just issues related to caregiving. Only caring from the space of completion that one can truly provide care a beautiful care.
• Surrender the outcome to the Divine. When I was caring for my father 4 years ago, I did my best medically possible and surrendered the outcome to Existence. Miraculously, my dad recovered from the brink of death. This experience taught me that life is not within our control, we can only perform our duty authentically and surrender the outcome to the higher forces. This beautiful quote sums it up – “Today I am feeling at peace and ready for what tomorrow brings, I feel so blessed that I did not give up and so grateful for those who support me.”
In essence, you can only give care to another being from your pure space of completion and compassion, not otherwise. Namaste. 😀