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Monday, February 4, 2013

Mindful caregivers: Rewired for love

(Public Domain)
Caregiving has often gotten a bad rap.  Cindy Laverty, who founded a "first-of-its-kind" talk show about this topic, points out that caring for loved ones is generally perceived as "stressful and awful."

In an article titled The Lighter Side of Caregiving: Appreciate the Humor, Marlo Sollitto recommends giving up "the role of the martyr."  Whereas caregiving can certainly be fraught with heavy-duty challenges, it doesn't have to be a constantly morose experience.  Feeling "overwhelmed and exhausted and without
hope" is what Laverty calls "a recipe for disaster."  Therefore, Sollitto urges caregivers to "lighten up" and enjoy some of the humorous occurrences along the way.  Laverty explains that this type of humor is not belittling.  You're simply laughing "because the moment is funny."

In her book Rewire Your Brain for Love, Dr. Marsha Lucas reports on meditative practices that can greatly facilitate a shift from martyrdom to mindfulness.  Lucas, who "specializes in the neuropsychology of relationships," states that increased mindfulness can assist "neuroplasticity – the mind's ability to change the physical structure of the pathways in the brain."

She primarily defines mindfulness as "paying attention to the present moment."  This involves being non-judgmentally aware of the thoughts, feelings and sensations that accompany emotions such as anger, resentment and grief.  Lucas states that mindfulness is a learned skill – one that can be enhanced by checking in with yourself throughout the day.  These self-examinations of "where your mind is and how you are feeling"
are akin to hitting mental re-set buttons.  Although your mind will inevitably tend to wander - mindfulness training will "help you be more emotionally resilient," as well as more empathetic.


Copyright February 4, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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