Tools for Caregivers to Manage Stress and Increase Joy
I very much enjoyed the opportunity to discuss Tools for Caregivers to Manage Stress and Increase Joy with Dr. Karen Wyatt, M.D, founder of the End-of-life University.
Dr. Wyatt also hosts End-of-Life University, an online interview series that features conversations with experts who work in all aspects of end-of-life care. She is widely regarded as a thought-leader in the effort to transform the way we care for our dying in the U.S. In addition, she is valued for her application of spiritual principles to illness and healthcare and teaches that in order to live life fully we must each overcome our fear of death and embrace the difficulties that life brings us.
In this episode, you can learn some quick and easy stress management tools to improve health and joy during challenging times.
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From the transcript
Karen Wyatt: So true. One thing that I’ve observed about most caregivers that I’ve interacted with is that for some reason, they have a hard time asking for help. And I’m not sure why it is. I’m not sure if they feel they have this whole responsibility, they’re supposed to make everything better, it’s their job or they’re afraid no one would want to help them. But it seems to me like that is a negative message in their heads that needs to be changed. Because that’s one of the reasons they get overburdened and in trouble, because they don’t know how to say, I can’t do all of this and I need someone to help me.
So I wondered if you have some tools that might help people learn how to ask for help and learn how to accept the fact that they can’t do everything.
Roger Moore: You know, to me, it’s giving yourself permission that yes, you are a caregiver. But first of all, you have to give care to yourself. You know, it’s said, put on your own oxygen mask first before you try to put on anybody else’s. That unless you give that care to yourself, you’re not going to be able to do this long term. And I think you’re right, there’s this magical belief that as a caregiver, a person is supposed to be all, do all, end all. And there’s no place for weakness or to be human, and you’re supposed to be superhuman. One of the things that I’ve just adapted and played with and taught people,
Gay Hendricks wrote a book called The Big Leap. And in there, he was actually talking about fear and he said, imagine that you have a birthday cake and there’s candles on it.
And to just take a deep breath and celebrate the fear by blowing out the candle. And what I’ve done with that is started teaching people, when you’re in those stressful times, when you’re feeling down, feeling discouraged or whatever, identify the emotion, identify the thoughts. Identify the emotions because first of all, when we acknowledge, oh there’s that stress, we’ve objectified it. We’ve separated ourselves from it, and it’s no longer part of us.
And now it’s over here, okay, now I can walk away from it or I can start doing things differently to handle the situation versus being just caught up in the rat race of stress. And so I have them blow out the candles on the stress and basically celebrate, isn’t that interesting? I was feeling stressed or I’m angry or whatever and blow it out. It’s a very powerful process, and it works really great.
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