Tag Archives: self-help

Four Fabulous Ways to Lift Your Mood and Enhance Your Creativity

Breakthrough 1

Exhaustion. Lethargy. Too tired to think or create. These are some of the issues so many care partners deal with. We’ve been collecting five-minute breakthroughs, simple and easy ways to change your energy and boost your creative spirit.

What area some of your creative catalysts?

RAISE YOUR ARMS AND RAISE YOUR ENERGY

You’ve already had a latte and a cookie, and you’re still lethargic. Now is the time to get “up in arms.”

With your fingertips touching, hold your hands in front of your stomach. Without touching your torso, slowly raise your hands the length of your upper body, palms facing in. As your hands lift over the top of your head, straighten your arms, stretching them high above your head.

This simple kinesiological technique makes you more alert and helps you focus.

distractionGIVE IN TO DISTRACTION

“I didn’t know what was wrong with me,” says Dusty. “I finally sit down to organize Mom’s medications, then two minutes later, I get up and wander around.”

Guess what–you don’t have to “sit still until you finish your work.” Give in to your desire to leave your task. Distractions are part of the creative cycle. By doing something different, you give yourself space for new creative thoughts and new energy. After a five-minute break, you can return to your task, centered, focused, and ready to be productive, at least for a half hour or so.

STORY LINES

Remember when you were a kid and someone read you a story? You were instantly transported into another time and place.

You’ll provide your own emotional and creative transportation when you break a stuck spell by reading aloud. Pick a story or a poem that’s short and visual. Children’s stories are wonderful, for imagery, for sound, for getting to use “voices,” and for quick shots of deep truth. Read aloud to yourself or share with your care partner. Reading aloud changes your energy and frees you free from stagnation.

ABOUT FACE

imgres“Don’t make faces at your brother,” they used to scold. Little did they know you were just being creative!

Scrunch up your nose. Push your cheeks up. Jut out your jaw and open your mouth dentist-wide. Bare your teeth, then stick out your tongue. Make as many faces as you can. Playing with your face muscles also plays with your mind muscles. After a few minutes, you’ll be ready to “face” the world again.

 

Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.

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Six Tips for Surviving the Holiday Season When a Loved One Has Dementia

t-dayNormally, Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday, a time our family gathered together at my Kansas City home. But that November, my stomach clenched at the thought of our traditional Thursday evening meal.

My mother had Alzheimer’s and the holiday would be different.  I felt alone but of course I wasn’t: there were 15 million family/friend caregivers helping the five million Americans who have dementia.

I’d been through my initial storm of denial and grief. I felt I’d been coping well with Mom’s diagnosis, focusing on offering my father extra support and trying to flow with Mom’s now spotty memory and personality quirks. But a pre-season sadness invaded me in October and I found myself dreading the alleged festivities. How could we have our usual holiday dinner, take our after dinner walks, play Scrabble and Hearts and Charades without Mom’s participation?  How could we enjoy going to movies and plays when Mom was having trouble focusing and sitting still?  And how would Mom react to the situation: would she feel uncomfortable and out of place? Would Dad feel protective and anxious? And more important, what would we have for dessert! Mom was legendary for her chocolate and butterscotch brownies, date crumbs, and bourbon balls. No store-bought cookies would compare. brownies

As I stewed over the prospect of a depressing Thanksgiving weekend, I remembered the vows I had made: I had promised I would try to stay connected to Mom throughout her Alzheimer’s journey. And I had promised to see the gifts and blessings and fun in the experience.

So I began thinking: if the holiday is going to be different, why not concentrate on making it different in a creative and connective way? Here are some ideas I used to make the holiday work for me.

  • Acknowledge my feelings of loss and grief. I wrote them down and shared them with a few friends. Just expressing myself made me feel stronger.
  • List what I would miss most during the holiday season. My list included cooking with Mom, eating her brownies and rum balls. I asked my brother, who’s a terrific baker, to make some of our favorite sweets and I set up a place in the dining room where Mom could sit next to me while I chopped mushrooms and peeled potatoes.
  • Create an activity to give our holiday a new focus. We created a simple holiday scrapbook called, “The Little Kitchen that Could,” complete with a family photo shoot and a playful script.
  • Appreciate my blessings. We started our Thanksgiving meal by asking everyone to name one thing he or she was grateful for. I continued my gratitude practice throughout the holiday season, either alone or with others via telephone and social media.
  • Take extra good care of myself.  I treated yourself as I would a friend who’d suffered a deep loss.
  • Set up a lifeline. “I’m worried about melting down,” I told my friend. She urged me to call anytime for encouragement and reassurance.

These six steps helped me enjoy my holiday and appreciate my mom just as she was. Our holiday was “different” but it was also wonderful.

gratitude

*****

Q 4 U :   How have you adapted your holiday expectations?

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Six Spiritual Practices For Living with a Diagnosis of Dementia

Normally, you can put my friend Vicki Stoecklin in any city and she will easily get her bearings. From Paris to Dubai to Marrakesh, Vicki is used to working in and making her way around foreign countries.

So, at age 58, when she started getting lost in her own city, she knew something was seriously wrong.

Vicki had been plagued with a series of chronic physical ailments and she figured she’d deal with whatever this new issue was.Image 1

But she was caught off when the neurologist said bluntly, “You have dementia.”

“What am I supposed to do?” Vicki said.

“Live your life,” he said.

Learning to Live with Dementia

Initially, ”living life” was a huge challenge. She had trouble remembering where she’d put things; her feelings were disoriented. She could no longer drive and or do simple math. Her vision played tricks on her: she saw black holes where there were none. And she felt isolated from her community and friends.

But Vicki had a wealth of inner strength and resources. When she told me about her spiritual practices, I was inspired and moved. Here are a few of the ideas she uses to center and care for herself.

Learning Self-Compassion

“I learned to have compassion for myself,” she says. “If I’m having a hard time concentrating on a book, I stop and do something comforting, instead of pushing myself.”

Using Family Treasures to Encourage Contemplation Image

Vicki enjoys contemplating her grandmother’s hand made quilt, which hangs on the wall of Vicki’s meditation room. “She probably had Alzheimer’s when she stitched those squares together,” Vicki says.

Inviting out the Inner Artist

Vicki uses crayons, watercolors, and colored pencils to explore her own artistic process.

“My depth and visual perception is off, so my work is abstract,” she says. “I also find it meditative to color labyrinths and mazes.”

Opening the Heart to Spiritual Texts

Vicki has a number of trusted books she calls upon.

One favorite is Peace in the Storm: Daily Meditations and Prayers for Those Affected with Chronic Illness.  

“This book has been a great support to me,” Vicki says. “It’s about finding your relationship with God during the challenges of ongoing illness.” Another book that spoke to Vicki was Proof Of Heaven by Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon who writes about his near-death experience. She also frequently reads Psalms.

Praying With and For Others

Vicki has a small box that she puts little prayers in for her grandson and her daughter. She has become a chaplain at her church and often prays for others. She also finds comfort in using the 24-hour prayer service at Silent Unity

Documenting Her Life Story

She has created two memory books — one for her work and one for her life. “These books are also reminders of the many happy memories over my lifetime,” she says.

*****

Q 4 U 

What are some ways you incorporate spirituality into your life?

If you’d like to contact Vicki, you may email her at Vicki vickiwhllg@aol.com

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Filed under Advocacy, Creativity, Inspiration, Spirituality