Thursday, March 25, 2010

Read an Enjoyable Book

We've started to explore the Pause of the Day (POD), a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes during which you can redirect your attention from the cares of caregiving to something enjoyable, something for you.

You'll notice my suggestion is not a "good" book, because people often equate "good book" with high school reading lists and literature we should read. I'm advocating reading for enjoyment, not for instruction or learning. Of course, if reading a heavy tale of survival or a history text uplifts you, makes you feel good and generally lightens your spirit, then have at it. I'm a romance kind of a gal, usually mixed with science fiction, Jane Austen's world, mystery or fantasy. I read plenty of things that stimulate my mind, make me ponder, push me to think critically. For a POD, I need pleasure, emotion, the sigh of a happy ending, a reaffirmation of Goodness. What you're striving for in choosing a book is a lightening of your spirit, a release of emotion, a way to escape the real drama you face each day.

Once you've chosen a book, for your POD, read one chapter. Or set a timer and read for 30 minutes. Make a pact with yourself. No interruptions. Turn off the cell phone, go to a room where you can close the door, sit out on the porch with no company except nature. And enjoy!

Blessings on your caregiving today!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Yoga Care for Hands

Here's a mini-vacation you give to your hands as well as to your spirit. You have, no doubt, heard of the different forms of Yoga that provide a full-body and mind stretching and strengthening. This month I was introduced to a form of Hand Yoga, and I share it with you as a way to take a break and soothe those tired muscles and tendons in your fingers, palms and wrists.

Warm-up. Begin by "washing" your hands (no water, no soap, just skin-to-skin), rubbing them together, making sure you gently rub each finger along its length. Count 20 seconds to make sure you've spent long enough. Get everything nice and warm. Then begin the exercise.

Step 1. Place your hands in a classic prayer or honor position--palms together, fingers together, all fingertips pointed to the sky. Make sure that your elbows stick out and press your palms lightly together.

Step 2. Keeping the heels of your hands together, slowly open your hands, starting at the top of your fingertips, slowly down your fingers, finally opening the palm. The heels of your hand are still pressed together and your hands form a "V", your fingers curved slighty backward so you feel a pleasant stretch. After a slow 3 count, bring your hands together again slowly, palms first, then fingers, then fingertips. You are now back to the beginning prayer position.

Step 3. Still keeping the insides of your hands together skin-to-skin, simply spread your fingers so that they resemble a lady's fan, held at a right angle to your body. Give yourself a nice, gentle stretch in this position. Elbows remain sticking out.

Step 4. With your fingers spread, open your hands again slowly, this time starting at the heel of the hand, separating palms next, then fingers, until only your fingertips are touching. Now your hands form an open-air, curved roof.

Step 5. Keep your fingertips touching while you pull all your fingertips together. With your fingertips all touching in the center, your hands form the infinity sign, a figure 8 on its side. Other images are two bird beaks touching, a pair of thick-rimmed glasses, or a mask.

Step 6. Keep your fingertips touching and move your hand back into the open-air, curved roof position of Step 4.

Step 7. Close the space between your hands so that they again form the Lady's Fan of Step 3. Bring your fingers together to return to the beginning prayer position.

Repeat Steps 2 through 7 three times slowly and deliberately. Keep those elbows sticking out. After the final repetition, gently flick your hands several times as if you were flicking water off them. You're done!

Hand Yoga positions, called Mudras, are varied, and a quick search of the Internet retrieved many hand positions that you can hold for relaxing and healing.

Here's to Happy Hands!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pause of the Day (POD)

Recently I've been focusing on mini-vacations and self-care, Caregivers, but don't forget to explore the other articles in this Blog. Look on the right-hand side under "Labels" to find articles on other topics of interest to caregivers. If there is something you've thought about but don't see it here, check the Parentcare 101 website, and if that doesn't work, contact me directly.

Now on to other ideas for talking a break. Mini-vacations are those short breathers (under 5 minutes) you take throughout the day. Mini-vacations are stop-and-smell-the-roses kind of breaks. A Pause of the Day (POD) is longer, perhaps 15-30 minutes in length, and you should try to schedule one of these once a day.

One of the easiest POD's is to choose a favorite half hour comedy show on television and make a point to watch it regularly. It has to be something that makes you grin widely, laugh out loud, giggle or hoot every time. "I Love Lucy" reruns, the Three Stooges, "The Daily Show", "Everybody Loves Raymond"--doesn't matter how goofy or if other people think it's "stupid". This is YOUR POD and if a show makes you laugh, it qualifies for POD status. Think video taping or DVR recording if the show is on at an inconvenient time. Think TV on DVD if the show now longer airs.

Pick your show, pick your time, sit down and have a good belly laugh. You'll feel much better. I promise.

Blessings on your caregiving!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Mini-Vacation List

So far, in our discovery of mini-vacations, we've talked about 8 different ways that you can take a short break throughout the day, whenever you need it. Eight ways means that you can try a different one each day for a week and see which one (or more) works best for you.

It's time to start a list.

Right now is a good time to jot down those mini-vacations that do work for you and keep that list handy. You may want to post it on your computer, in your PDA, on the refrigerator, in your parent's Care Log--all of the above and anywhere else that's easy to get to. Add to the list as you discover new ways to pause. Then when you need that break, you can whip out the list, look it over and choose a mini-vacation. Ah-h-h.

So far, here's the list:
  • Light a Candle
  • Take 3 Deep Breaths
  • Watch the Birdies Go Tweet!
  • Get a Hug
  • Is It Important?
  • Daily Calendar
  • Count Your Blessings
  • Consider the Empty Bowl

Have you found anything else that gives you a lift and helps you center yourself for the next task? Add it to the list.

And share it with us.

Blessings on your caregivng day!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Take 3 Deep Breaths

You've heard people encourage one another, "Take a breath", meaning "stop a moment" or "don't run on so frantically." I say it frequently here as a reminder that we don't need to run headlong into activity. We're allowed to pause. That's what mini-vacations are all about.

Today's suggestion for a mini-vacation is a simple one. When life starts to pile up on you, take three deep breaths.

And I mean, "deep", from the belly, not from the throat, not from the chest. Breathe in through your nose and let your belly (that's right, where your belly button is) relax and expand. You women out there, don't worry about looking fat. You're doing this for your sanity. It doesn't take much time. You can suck in your tummy later. For now, let it expand and fill with air as you breathe in, slowly and steadily.

Then breathe out slowly and completely, through either your mouth or nose. The idea is to blow out all your tension with the air. Allow your shoulders and neck to relax as the breath pours out. Close your eyes if it will help you to expel the tension.

Concentrate on what you're doing, how you feel, how much tension is released, the point at which there's no more air to blow out.

Complete the breath.

Then repeat. Twice.

Now move on with your day. Doesn't that feel better?

Blessings on your caregiving!