If Love is a magician…
Then surely Time is a thief. What can be easily stolen from you when you’re flying though life at breakneck speed is also easily brought back into focus, and back into your daily living. What is required is simply to slow down. Seems to fly (flying again) in the face of reason, doesn’t it? If we move more slowly, take a little more time with some things, won’t we be getting less done? Less? OMG! (as the texters say). How can that be good? Isn’t that like losing even more time?
No. It’s more like sometimes (not even always) “sipping” time instead of gulping, and perhaps tasting a little more quality, a little more meaning, and a little more joy. And much more contentment. Here are a few simple tips , ones you already know, but perhaps haven’t yet put into practice:
- Learn to see your slow moments, your “times out” as worth planning for and scheduling. Ever find your appointments, events, meetings both business and casual, and tasks so packed that you have no flexibility? You’ve been putting things into your schedule for weeks or months without thinking about it. Suddenly you realize that your next 60 days is completely over-booked! If you begin to look ahead and actually write in your break times, your few hours or few days here and there that you can keep relatively light or completely unscheduled, then you will always have some down-time to look forward to, and some flexibility in your schedule should compelling invitations or tasks come up.
- Revise your “To-Do” list into 2 lists: a MUST DO, and a CAN DO. This way you are sure to get to the MUST list and not find yourself forced to give up your planned time for reading or walking, or for tending your orchids in the kitchen window. The CAN list is a part of deciding how to use your time, but these items should not be ones that cause more immediate problems if not taken care of. They may need to get done, but can wait a little while. There are children, parents, family and friends you could spend some extra time with, or maybe play with your pet, instead of feeling driven to complete the “can do” list.
- Watch your driving speed. The numbers on your speedometer are not only telling you something about your car. They also are telling you something very important about yourself! Are you moving too fast? If so, slow down. Getting used to a reasonable pace while behind the wheel will do wonders for helping you to pace yourself more generally. It changes your approach to how and when you blend in, and when you stand out. Slowing down conserves energy, yours and the planet’s, and allows for more consideration before making decisions, whether about changing lanes or changing banks.
- Look around as you move about in your usual environment. Look at things you usually rush past, perhaps an old photograph on a table or a small clutch of wild flowers near the curb. Your world will feel richer if you notice more of what’s in it.
It all sounds simple; and it is. Mainly because each of these is something you can do on your own with no additional costs or resources. By helping you to re-capture some of your time, these small changes will help you to make small but meaningful changes in your health and happiness, and will give the thief only what is his due.
Quote by James M. Barrie: “You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by; but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by.”
The magazine Caring Today offers advise and resource suggestions for caregivers of those with chronic illness. The November/December 2008 issue has these practical yet important tips, using the author’s experience with her husband Gary who has dementia:
- Go With the Flow: Rather than become frustrated with behaviors that are slightly exaggerated, try to find a way to re-define the behavior as helpful or positive, even if unusual.
- Appreciate the Small Stuff: Try to recognize the person’s contribution to your life or to the household, no matter how slight, and take pleasure in their own feelings of inclusion and participation.
- Get Plugged-in: Having accurate information about the illness you are witnessing as well as the available professional and community resources will relieve your stress and anxiety, and help you to be a better helper.
- Find Helping Hands: You cannot and should try to handle all situations all by yourself. Develop a team of supporters, perhaps both paid and volunteer, to give you respite and to take on particular tasks.
- Share Your Challenges and Successes With Others: Sharing both helps others just beginning to learn how to be a care-takers, and makes it possible for you to learn from those who have discovered resources you don’t know about. It creates a learning environment for everyone. This network can also provide emotional support during crises or periods of discouragement.
- Endure: It’s important to realize and accept that you, along with the diagnosed person, will probably have to live through some trying times. The distress and heartache of witnessing the deterioration of a loved one may sometimes seem impossible to endure, yet, as the author says so poignantly, “Quitting is not an option.” Taking good care of yourself, because you deserve it and need it, will enhance your capacity to endure.
You can find more of the above at www.caringtoday.com
November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Alzheimer’s is a heart-wrenching and challenging experience for everyone; the diagnosed person, family members and friends. Having accurate information and a network of knowledgeable professional providers can help to ease some of the fear and stress, and helps to make informed decisions.
Dr. Nancy Hoffman, who provides testing and assessment as well as psychotherapy in the San Francisco Bay Area, also provides up-to-date and interesting information links for anyone facing Alzheimer’s, or for anyone providing care.
Visit her website for more information or to contact her to schedule an assessment.
Go to www.drnancyhoffman.com
Any long-term illness presents emotional challenges along with the physical illness. You will better manage your illness AND your emotional health by paying attention to a few critical issues.
Recognize that you will experience emotionally painful losses when coping with any chronic illness. These losses may include the one listed below (and many others not listed):
- The loss of full physical functioning (for example: difficulty climbing stairs, dressing or driving).
- The loss of control over what is done to, for and with your body, giving oneself over to confusing and discomforting medical procedures.
- The loss of a reliable future; being uncertain about the course and pace of the illness.
- The loss of career; real or feared progressive difficulty performing standard work tasks.
- The loss of self-identity; no longer the primary household earner.
Any of these kinds of losses result in stress and anxiety, and so it is important to understand how they impact you as well as others. Having a clear sense of what challenges you now face, and may face in the future, will enable you to plan ways to manage your life more effectively and to preserve the greatest degree of self-reliance. Learning to manage the stress and anxiety associated with chronic illness, through self-reflective therapy, will also help to maintain strong relationships with family and friends who want to assist and support you, and will allow for improved outcomes in your medical treatment as well.
The benefits of maintaining your emotional health as you cope with chronic illness are often overlooked. Learn to take care of yourself in all realms, and enjoy your life to the fullest extent possible.