Saturday, October 30, 2010

Count to 100

Does your mind race around trying to keep track of the things you have to do? Mine does. Even with my compulsion for list-making, my monkey mind just hops around and bounces back and forth, reviewing what I've done, setting up what needs to be done, flicking through my mental file just who's on my "To Delegate" list, on and on.

Monkey Mind does pretty well (with the help of those lists!) and often, as my little internal file keeper is reorganizing and categorizing what Monkey Mind is tossing around, she brings to the surface some important item that got buried or a new idea for solving a current situation. So I don't like to put the lid on Monkey Mind or Ms. Inner Filer all that often. However. When I'm ready to go to sleep, I really do need the dynamic duo of Mind and Filer to take a break. Whew! Tough one.

There are a lot of suggestions I've read--no computer, no e-mail, no phone, no TV; visualization of a pleasant landscape, reading a few pages of a soothing book, listening to soothing music or sounds. All good suggestions. I do these from time to time. But I find that what helps me most is to count to one hundred.

Get comfy in bed; relax against the pillows; turn off the lights, TV, radio; settle into the dark and the relative quiet.

Tell yourself that you will focus on this counting until you reach 100. If you reach 100 and you're still wide awake, then you may need to try that visualization method, but you're going to allow yourself to stick with this to 100.

Then direct your attention to your breath.
Breathe in, as you breathe out, count 1.
Breathe in, as you breathe out, count 2.
Breathe in, as you breathe out, count 3. And so on.

Don't try to breathe deep or change your breathing rate. Just, every time you breathe in and out, count.

If a thought comes wafting in (and it will), gently redirect your attention to your breath and continue counting. If you hear sounds from the other room, or feel movement on the bed for whatever reason, acknowledge it and go back to attending to your breath and counting. If you lose count, start where you left off and keep going. Don't angst about missing numbers, just resume your attention and your counting.

I usually count from one to ten, then start over because counting from one to ten is so completely a part of me that I can do it, well, in my sleep. And that is the point.

With this method, even though I give myself permission to count to 100, I get to the 5th or 6th round of counting to 10 (or to 50 or 60 if I count in sequence), and I'm out. For the night. I even feel skeptical some nights when I'm really wound and I'm certain that Monkey Mind and Ms. Filer will never let me sleep. Attending to my breath and counting works every time.

Now I know you're going to say, "But that's kind of like counting sheep, and that's silly." Counting sheep does work for some people. If it works for you, by all means, continue. My problem is that when I'm counting sheep, I start to make up stories about each one, why is this one underfed, why is that one so fluffy, and did that one have anything to do with the fire at the farm earlier that day. So you see, sheep do not help me in the least. They could be labelled "Enablers" to sleepnessness. Let's not go there.

Try the breath counting. It works for me. It could work for you.

Pleasant dreams and blessings on your caregiving.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Look Around You; REALLY Look

I've just gotten back from the UU Christian Fellowship Revival in Texas which counts toward my need to "Get Outta Dodge." Working from home, caregiving in your home, not ever leaving home--not good for your mental health. That would be a post in the Blog "Take a Vacation!", but we are in the business here of sharing ideas for Mini-vacations.

My break did remind me that no matter how big the Texas sky or vast the land there, I love the scenery of North Carolina. It speaks to me deep down. Not just the landscapes, but the view right out my windows. So today, for your mini-vacation, I invite you to look outside. Not a glance or a quick scan, but a 5- or 10-minute-study. Look out any window (or step out on the balcony, porch or deck to get smells and sound effects) and really look.

What do you see? A busy street with cars and trucks and motorcycles and SUV's? Is it tree-lined or paved? What colors do you see? Are the buildings brick or wood or siding? What color? What shape or texture? Or do you see a green lawn or stones in every shade of brown and beige? Any wildlife? Birds, bees, bears? Any pets masquerading as wildlife? Is it windy or calm? Is there sunlight bouncing around or is it overcast? What shape are the clouds...or is it clear? Are there people outside? How are they dressed? I have a friend that loves picking out people on the street and making up stories about where they're going and where they've been. Be a little creative if you want.

You can stop me any time now.

Your turn. Get up from your computer and look out the window. Really look.

Blessings on your caregiving today!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Dancing the Twofer

All experts agree that everyone (even you, Caregiver) needs to "exercise" 30 minutes a day to help maintain physical health. I put "exercise" in quotes because the more I read, the more I've come to understand that it's about Movement. You need to get out of the car, off the couch, out of the office chair in front of a computer and Move.

Now for some reason (excuses, laziness, stubborness, bad weather, whatever), I have not yet become disciplined enough to always get in a nice aerobic bike ride or my session at Curves or even a brisk walk.

So at the very least I try to go for a Movement Twofer, as in Two-for-One Effort.

I've chosen some household tasks that I'd like to do on a regular basis. Things that take physical effort. And I plan time to spend 30 minutes on that activity.

Vacuuming is a great Twofer. Especially if you move some furniture, vacuum sofa pillows and vacuum the stairs. Add picking up throw rugs and going up and down stairs to dump them in the washer, and you're working up a nice, warm glow--as elegant ladies (who do not sweat!) say.

Scrubbing the shower is also a great Twofer. Wiping down the walls, scrubbing the floor, rinsing everything off. Oh, yeah.

Mopping the floors. I have a fairly large kitchen, so moving furniture, getting the bucket ready and mopping, all done at a steady pace...definitely glowing after 30 minutes of that.

And hey, while you're doing that, turn on your favorite music. Something with a good beat for dancing and boogy your way through the activity you've chosen.

Dancing the Twofer. Now there's a reality show just waiting to happen.


Blessings on your caregiving today!