Corina Notyce: Five Stratcies for Finding Peace in the Turbulence of Caregiving!

As a caregiver for her husband with traumatic brain injury, Rosemary Rawlins shares insights garnered through her own experiences along with insights garnered through her own experiences along with insights from other caregivers and family members in her blog, Learning by Accident, on Brain Line. In this blog post, Rosemary shares five strategies to help you, the caregiver, rest, relax and recharge while caring for someone you love with TBI. The human brain takes a long time to heal after trauma, and so it follows that caring for a loved one with brain injury can feel like an eternity. On top of that, outcomes from traumatic brain injury are hardly unpredictable. Odd symptoms come and go, personalities, roles, and relationships change, and stress can mount with each passing day. How can a caregiver tap into a sense of peace along the way? Here are a few strategiesthat worked for me, when I had the sense and presence of mind to use them! Accept not knowing. Accept what you know for what it is, and realize that you cannot change what already happened. You cannot accurately predict what already happened. You cannot accurately predict what may happened. You cannot accurately predict what may happen. But you can draw strength and breathe life into today by accepting it as it is without judgment. Create your own sacred space. A special chair, a sun porch, or a window seat can be the place you visit when you need to catch your breath. Keep a few favorite items near that space: a sacred statue, your own personal amulets, a framed quote or prayer that soothes you, or even worry beads or a stress ball to grip when you feel combustible. Sometimes, you may need to leave a volatile situation, just walk away, but try not to stomp and visit your safe space. Returning there again and again can direct your thoughts, spiritually, and guide you when you feel a deep sense of anger, anxiety or grief. Carve out small bits of time to revive. Make it a daily practice to use whatever small amounts of time you can find during the day to dedicate to yourself. When Hugh was exhausted after his rehab visits, he usually came home, ate and fell asleep for a while. I would go out on the back door and sit in the sun, read or just take in the spring air and breathe. Using these small windows of time to listen to music, read poetry, stretch or listen to music, read poetry, stretch or listen to a guided imagery tape for relaxation will give you the energy you need to continue on. Discover your mantra. The words we tell ourselves have incredible power over our moods and behavior. Find the words that calm you and repeat them to yourself throughout the daywhen you feel anger, fear or frustration spinning out of control. I often said the serenity prayer in my mind. It seems to cover all the bases for TBI care-giving! Some lyrics work well too, something short and sweet you can say over and over to yourself instead of the litany of defeat that replays in your mind. Here are two short lyric mantras that might work as well: Let it be, by the Beatles, and All will be well, the Gabe Dixon Band. And don't forget Norman Vincent Peale's sage advice: Change your thoughts and you change the world. 

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