In yesterday’s blog, Collette and I shared our common no-nonsense, no-guilt practices to maintain balance and sanity for self-care while getting our butts kicked in the arena of caregiving.
Our topics were the following: Reach Out and Delegate, Limit Your Social Media and News to 15 minutes or None At All, and While Driving.
In deference to time, I mentioned in my last blog that I would offer more on the While Driving segment in my next writing and so I am continuing it here.
Driving can either be a petri dish of malignant, looping thoughts, or a mental safe-haven. We talked about driving in silence, or at a minimum, driving while listening to something worthwhile; i.e. a book, a seminar, or your favorite music, which in its own way can be a means to not thinking. Sounds strange, I know, so let me explain how to not think and why it is so important to us as caregivers.
When we fully disengage our brain, the looping, pounding thoughts we experience as caregivers, stop dead in their tracks. The truth is, (and I’ve mentioned this in other blogs and articles), “Worry and obsessive thinking pretend to be necessary to problem solving; however, in reality, they serve no purpose. Read that sentence again. Then read it again.
Worth repeating from Part I is that “thoughts,” particularly the looping kind, have been scientifically studied and proven to be 97% ineffective.
What is effective is to practice disengaging from these looping thoughts and bring our attention to the present moment. When we are driving, just drive, and trust that sitting quietly behind our attention to driving is Peace and Clarity. Doing this gives our brain a break, a chance for our brain to stretch its arms and legs with Peace and Clarity. We are still processing, but it’s done on a subconscious level where solutions can come from a place of support rather than resistance.
We know this works because a word, idea, or solution suddenly pops into our heads at the oddest times: we wake up with a solution, or we wake up able to better prioritize our day. For the most part, ideas and answers surface after a time of rest. They also come after we engage in an entirely different activity, exercise being one of the best activities, but any alternative activity will work. It’s our needed brain break.
As bass-ackwards as all of this sounds, studies have shown that when we are less stressed and less anxious, we are better able to shut down the looping thoughts and we naturally become more productive, organized and methodical.
Think of the looping thoughts as the ability to dismiss the ill-behaved class clowns, also known as Anxious and Stressed, and their good buddies, Frazzled and Worried. When they are booted out of the classroom, the rest of the students can get back to work, and are then better able to focus on getting their work done.
Driving With Kiddies: Collette suggests two options if you have children in the car. One option is to take the opportunity to have a conversation with them and become fully engaged with them. This time is sacred just like my one-on-one time is with my Mom.
Collette confessed how easy it used to be for her to just let her kids pile in the car and get on their mobile devices. Now her second option is to have them take a vote: conversation or quiet, and more often than not, everyone votes to talk.
As sacred as this time can be, it can also be a slippery slope if you are in traffic, or road conditions are not at their best. It goes without saying, use caution with this suggestion!
When the unanimous vote is for quiet, Collette uses the time to just drive, practicing diffusing the negative looping thoughts of worrying about her father, or the fourteen other things she has to do or didn’t get done. She focuses on just driving: right turn, brake, stop at a light, breathe. Collette knows that what she is concerned about cannot be helped, or accomplished, at that moment while she is driving, so she just drives. She gives her brain a much needed break and just drives, and now, more often than not, once she reaches her destination, that much needed idea, resolution or answer pops up and reveals itself.
What Is True For Me:
Honest to God, if I had had the awareness of all I could do through my thought processes, along with the knowledge of how to live in the present moment either while driving, and/or within the many moments during my caregiving day, I would have been a hundred miles ahead in self-care a lot sooner.
Change doesn’t happen overnight. Be brave enough to practice something new.
My advice: Start small, but just start.
Meet you at Part III…