Thursday, April 1, 2010

Work With Your Hands

Many of the activities that you do as a caregiver are mentally exhausting. Doing your parent's taxes, trying to figure out a new way to encourage your mom to eat, reading up on treatment for your father's condition, arranging for care--all of these tax your brain. And the emotional stress adds another level of tiredness that seems to seep down to your bones.

One way to dispel that mental fatigue is a Pause of the Day (POD)--15 to 30 minutes--doing something with your hands, focusing on their movement, not on the present problem you're resolving. Choosing that "something" does take a little planning (yes, I know, more thought...but big payoff!).

The something should be:
  • An activity that you can do for a short time, put down and pick up tomorrow or next week without missing a beat.
  • An activity that is active. Your hands--better yet your whole body--are involved.
  • An activity that requires you to pay attention to what you're doing, either to avoid injury or to produce good results.

Let's just brainstorm for a moment. Knitting, crocheting, needlework, sewing, staining furniture, trimming bushes, weeding the garden, building models, creating stained glass light catchers, weaving, pottery, washing dishes by hand, checking the smoke detectors, dusting, sweeping, mending a sail, filling the birdfeeders...

What we're listing here is a mixture of hobbies and light household tasks. We've always labeled hobbies as "enjoyable", but we can also reframe household "chores" into household "pauses". I actually enjoy making the beds. I like the way each bed looks after I've smoothed the bedspread down and plumped the pillows. So I leave that pause until later in the day, take my time with it, and enjoy the result. I hate gardening, so pulling weeds for 15 minutes does absolutely nothing positive for my attitude, but you may find it's just the thing to put a pesky problem into perspective (lovely alliteration, LaVerne!).

As I noted, you may need to plan just a bit. If you want to work on refinishing furniture or on a sewing project that will span many "pauses", you'll need workspace that will be undisturbed until the next time you're ready for a pause. Because the lure of the activity may pull you into spending more time than you want to devote, set a timer. No need to add the frustration of overshooting your time limits to your day.

Pick an activity you like, set aside 15-30 minutes every day for enjoying that activity, set aside workspace if necessary and ... pause.

Blessings on your caregiving day!

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