Caregiver’s Self-Kindness: Finding What Works Best

download (41)Lack of self-kindness can lead to the loss of identity, the blues, symptoms of depression, or a medical diagnosis of depression. You don’t need any of these things at this time of life. Instead, identify the self-kindness steps that work for you–a trial and error process. While you’re figuring this out, you need to continue to be a caregiver and take care of yourself.

Like buying new shoes, you have to “try on” self-kindness. You may eat lunch out with a friend for weeks, until you realize this is costly self-kindness. A new hobby may grab your attention until you realize you don’t like it. Getting together with family members can be self-kindness, but this is difficult if relatives live far away, and your meetings are few.

Whether you are a volunteer family caregiver or a paid health care professional, each caregiver has to determine the self-kindness steps that work for them. I’m in my 19th year of caregiving and am also a health and wellness writer. To produce articles and books I need time for thought and research. Therefore, I build quiet time into every day. In fact, quiet is my top self-kindness step.

Mike O’Connor cites examples of self-kindness in his article, “40 Ways to Practice Self-Kindness,” posted on the Kindness blog. Some ideas, such as drinking plenty of water, sound simple. In reality, staying hydrated is crucial to good health. Another of his suggestions is to learn to accept compliments and resist the urge to deny them. Being emotionally honest, asking for help, mindful eating, and limiting the time we spend with difficult people are more of his suggestions.

The question is, “What works best for me? You may have to get better at self-talk, for example. At the end of the day, if you find your thoughts slipping into the negative zone, counter these thoughts with positive ones. Doing this takes practice. Focusing on the benefits of caregiving can be helpful. Remember, you’re making a difference in someone’s life.

Be willing to change course. Keeping a self-kindness step that doesn’t make you feel better is a waste of your time and energy. Nix that step from your list and head in a new direction. You may be stymied on this direction and, if so, ask a caregiver friend, or member of your support group, or a member of an online support group, for some ideas.

In their book, The Tough and Tender Caregiver, David A. Travland, PhD and Rhonda Travland compare the caregiver’s needs to the care receiver’s needs. “If the caregiver cannot continue to be a whole person,” they write, “he or she is not going to be much good as a caregiver.” The goal of self-kindness is to keep what makes you the person you are, and energize you for the weeks ahead.

You are worthy of this goal. In order to reach it you need to be mindful of your feelings. Determine which self-kindness steps work best for you and stick with them. You may also wish to put these steps in writing and post them on the refrigerator door. The best person to practice self-kindness is you.



Can Your Fitness Tracker Work Against You?

download (40)Fitness trackers are all the rage right now, but there’s one aspect of activity tracking most people never think about – the tracking part. Just like a cellphone or any other tracking device, an activity tracker logs data related to your whereabouts (or past whereabouts). In other words, your fitness tracker could work against you!

A Florida Case
Currently, the information logged by a fitness tracker is being used as part of a court case. A Florida woman claimed that she was raped while staying at her boss’s house, but her activity tracker shows that she did not do the things she claimed to do the night prior.

This woman claimed to be sleeping the night before the attack, but her tracker data shows that she was up and walking around all night – police suspect she was staging the scene of the crime.

This is just one case where fitness trackers are being used to hold people accountable. The data that a tracker logs can be used against someone in a court of law, and more and more this is what’s happening.

Used as Proof Too
Fitness trackers might be able to help you when it comes to proving limited mobility too. A good example is a case happening in Canada right now. A few years ago, a woman was injured in an accident. This accident drastically cut down on her mobility.

Her lawyer is currently trying to show a court just how limited she is by showing the data logged on her activity tracker – the amount of mobility she has right now is far below what someone her age should be able to do. Data from fitness trackers can be used in court in this manner as well, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Keeping Your Data Safe
There are some concerns about the safety and privacy of fitness trackers too. Not only can these trackers be used for accountability purposes, but it’s also possible that the data stored in a tracker might be widely available to the right hacker.

So just how safe is your activity tracker? It is recommended that you use your tracker when you plan to be active, but remove it when you are at home. Of course, this somewhat defeats the purpose of tracking all of your steps in one day, but it might protect you against hacks.

The bottom line here is to understand that any device developed to track your movements does just that – this kind of data is recorded at all times. If you keep this important detail in mind, fitness trackers can be used safely.



Signs and Symptoms of Emotional Distress

download (39)Most people suffering from this form of distress find that they have very poor sleep quality. Sleep is essential to your overall well being and finding that your sleep is lacking or you fall asleep but cannot stay asleep will have a negative impact on you daily. Poor sleep quality comes out in other forms, such as exhaustion, struggle to concentrate and so much more, which only add to the signs and symptoms you are already facing with this form of distress.

Another sign you may not that may have you wondering if you are suffering and need emotional distress psychotherapy is weight fluctuations. Everyone is under the impression that when you are stressed you will lose weight, but this is not the case. In fact, many people suffering with distress find that they can lose weight and they put it on just as easily. Some find comfort in eating, which results in them putting on the pounds and then the next week, they cannot eat and the weight falls off them again.

A very common sign of emotional distress is headaches. Unfortunately this form of distress plays out as overall health issues and experiencing headaches that don’t seem to ease and you suffer with them daily can be a sign of an underlying issue, such as stress. You may also find that even though you exercise regularly, your body aches. The most common aches and pain you will experience due to distress is the shoulders and lower back, though the pain can come through from anywhere. Ensure if you are struggling to sleep, your weight is fluctuating and you are experiencing pain and you know you are stressed that you seek professional help.

You may find that you are experiencing stomach problems from diarrhea to constipation to as far as irritable bowel syndrome. All of these can make you uncomfortable and can leave you feeling more unhappy each day than the distress you are experiencing.

It is very common when suffering from any form of emotional distress that you have a short fuse and this can lead to a bad temper. Some people find that they have mood swings, going from happy to angry within seconds, while others find that they get angry at anything and have a flaring temper until they have started working with an emotional distress psychotherapist who helps them with coping and breathing techniques to keep their emotions and temper under control.

Many emotional distress psychotherapists advise that some people suffering from this form of distress play out in an obsessive behaviour of some kind. This may be checking the front door is locked ten times before going to work to running back home every day to make sure they haven’t left the oven on. Obsessive disorders are exceptionally common in anyone suffering from emotional distress. The good news is that this can be managed with the right care and help.

In addition to this, anyone suffering from emotional distress will find that they are tired all the time, they have no energy, their memory is poor and to top it off, they start losing interest in a social life. They start putting off friends and family to stay home alone.

London Therapy Foundation (LTF) is a consortium of registered and qualified psychotherapists and counsellors offering a range of mental services from marriage counselling to depression and addiction to anxiety. LTF formed with the highest level of service in mind and their access centre is conveniently located close to the M25. Their website is brimming with information on the mental health professionals and enables patients to access counselling without a long waiting list.



Where to Start Your Health and Fitness Lifestyle Journey

download (38)Once we have noticed a problem in our lives or maybe something just missing and we come to the decision that the problem is that we are not living our lives quite as well or as fully as we should be living it, many of us have to step back a second and come to the realization that we do not know where to start. What changes should we make? Should I just dive right in fully submerged in this new lifestyle? How often and long should I be working out? These are all questions I am going to answer and more with specific instructions along with experiences of my own.

The first thing that you must do is decide on a goal for yourself. Do you want to lose weight? Do you just want to be living better? Both will lead to the same lifestyle later but if you are trying to lose weight your diet and exercise will need to be stricter. You should, also, not shy away from setting specific goals; goals that include time frames and are measurable and most importantly realistic and possible to be done in a healthy manner.

Next comes the mental prep. You need to prepare yourself for what is to come. You must be mentally tough in order to make a real life change. It will be hard and you will have moments of weakness, but you must be strong in will. This is why setting specific goals is important. Without specific goals people often lack the proper motivation that changing their lifestyle requires.

Now for the actions to be taken; let’s start with nutrition and diet. Firstly, you must remember that when grocery shopping never bring junk food into your home just because. Stop buying soda, chips, unhealthy crackers and snacks. Simply put, if they are not available you cannot have them. Limit or eliminate your intake of the obvious junk food. Now, I will not tell you that you must completely eliminate junk food right off the bat or even ever. I believe in balance. It is okay to indulge every once in a while. How I personally control my cravings and my indulgences is by only ever having those craving foods when I am eating out or on a special occasion. This is possible because I do not have these craving foods in my own home. That way I am consistently eating the things that I actually should be.

Next, you can never go wrong with vegetables. Eat as many as your heart desires and do not worry about calories when it comes to vegetables. Try to eat fresh produce or frozen and stay away from canned vegetables if possible as they are filled with preservatives and sodium. Of course you should be eating fruit as well, but make sure you are not just drinking fruit juices and smoothies as these contain no fiber. Do not overdo it on the fruits either as they do contain healthy nutrients and vitamins, but they are also high in sugar. Too much sugar in any form is bad.

When you are grocery shopping, be sure to look at nutrition labels. Know to watch out for high levels of sodium, fat, and sugar. Do not be fooled by non-fat items as they often include more sugar. Do not be too afraid of all fat as our body needs it to function. Just make sure your intake of fats is of unsaturated fats. One of my greatest fears in food is sugar. This is because I had no idea until the past few years how much sugar is in our foods. Women should only be taking in 25 grams of sugar per day and men should only be taking in 37 grams. Lastly, try to avoid the more middle aisles in the grocery store as the more you work your way towards the middle the more you are surrounded by highly processed foods. Stick the basics with real whole ingredients. I am not a registered nutritionist or dietician so I try not to give people advice that I personally have not experienced. So, I do recommend that you do some reading on your own from RELIABLE sources. I cannot stress that enough. Make sure all reading material you look towards is accurate information as so much of it out there, especially on the internet, is not.

Now, I am sorry but for the exercise portion I have to be a little vaguer. This is because everyone’s bodies require different things. Start by deciding where you want to be working out. Will you want to be doing it at home? Will you want to work out outside? Do you want to join a gym? This will dictate what kind of exercising you will be doing. If you want to work out at home you might try a highly rated workout program or home workout videos. There are also online subscriptions to workout videos as well as the free option of YouTube. I caution you, if you choose to work out at home it is easy to slack off so make sure you hold yourself accountable or have a friend join you so that you can hold each other accountable.

If you choose to join a gym, explore all the gyms in your area and make sure you choose the one that seems the best for you. The gym you join should feel like a safe place for you. Gyms can be intimidating at first. I think the best weapon against intimidation from the unknown is having a plan. Personally, when I was afraid to go into my gym I would look up workout routines so I knew exactly what I wanted to be doing while I was in there and so that I would not be nervous or embarrassed of looking like I don’t belong. Know that no one is judging you.

Find out if you enjoy just straight cardio, lifting weights, a combination of both, or something completely different such as dance workouts. Once you have found something that makes exercising fun your motivation will be much easier for you to maintain.

The last thing that I want to cover about your healthy and fit lifestyle journey is staying accountable. Make sure that before you start on this journey that you hold yourself accountable for your actions. For some people their internal drive is enough to keep them going, but for others it is not as easy. For these people I suggest telling one or many people about what you plan to do. Have others watching you so that you don’t slip up or if you do you have support. I also recommend going on this journey with a partner or friend. These changes are much easier to undergo if you are not going it alone. Lastly, don’t beat yourself up too much if you slip up every once in a while. You are forever learning and making mistakes and learning from them, but as long as you have a strong will and goals set, there is no reason you can’t accomplish them. Good luck!