Are you constantly worrying or ruminating on negative worst-case scenarios? Sometimes we can have a hard time trying to challenge these fears with our internal monologue alone. We may have a hard time challenging our thoughts because we become so upset at the scenario. Instead, we ruminate on the situation.
One way of dealing with these worries is to write a script of the worst possible outcome. For instance, if you are fearful that if you are not 100% connected to your carepartner throughout the day, something bad might happen, a worry script helps you to explore the most negative outcome as a way of processing the emotions and letting them go.
How to write a worry script:
- Find a private and comfortable space to write for half an hour.
- Begin writing out the absolute worst-case scenario of your worry.
- Write it as if you are experiencing the incident: How do you react? How do you feel? What do you see, smell, hear, touch?
- Ask yourself, is this as bad as it could get? If not, go deeper in the writing.
- Allow yourself to get emotional about the incident, it means that you are truly facing your fear on the page.
- Repeat this exercise daily until you are able to let the fear go.
What did you notice when you did this exercise? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comment section.
I often think of my life as a kind of mountain hike. Yesterday I found the following quote which seemed to resonate with my rather challenging week:
“Our way is not soft grass, it’s a mountain path with lots of rocks. But it goes upwards, forward, toward the sun.”
A mountain itself can be the symbol of immutable strength, a source of peace and quiet meditation.
Take comfort in our beautiful mountain views today,
Creativity is about experimentation, finding out what sparks our interest and then pursuing the path to see where it leads. It is about suspending judgement and playing with the senses. It is about enjoying the present moment at play.
We can be creative individuals, without having a favoured outlet. Creativity exists even if we don’t identify first and foremost as an artist, a writer, a musician, or any other vocation.
What inspires you creatively?
Creativity can manifest in our life when we are getting dressed in the morning. Inspiration strikes when you find an interesting combo in your closet. It strikes when you are at the grocery store and you get curious about that foreign vegetable in the produce aisle. It strikes when you hear a new song on the radio and you feel like dancing along.
Creativity adds flavour to our lives.
When you suddenly find yourself with a spark of inspiration, mindfully follow the path to see where it goes. Get lost in your “creative process” and see how your mind becomes fully present.
For ideas on how to find a spark, read this post, “101 Tips on Becoming More Creative.”
PS: Join us on February 15th for a night of fun! Find out more about our event, Inspiring Self-Care Through Creativity, here.
Happy Lunar New Year! Because I married into a Chinese-Canadian family, I’m a recent convert to the lunar new year celebrations. Every year, we gather with my husband’s family for a multi-course feast, where his grandmother and parents serve traditional dishes along with special delicacies. I learned that some of the foods even have symbolic meaning.
While the lunar new year is celebrated by many nationalities, here is a quick guide to some of the Chinese symbolic foods that I have will have this year:
Oranges: We always bring some oranges for my husband’s grandmother. They are meant to bring good luck and fortune. The word for orange sounds similar to the word for success.
Pomelos: These large citrus fruits are meant to bring prosperity, as the more you eat, the more abundance you will bring into your life
Noodles: Long noodles are said to bring about longevity. The longer the noodle, the greater the wish for a long life!
Fish: Fish served whole represents unity. The head of the fish is meant to be served facing the elder of the table, with them being the first person to serve themselves from the dish. It is also supposed to be the last dish with leftovers to signify a surplus which will carry into the new year.
Turnip Cake: My husband’s grandmother always sends us home with extra turnip cake. It is symbolic of fortune.
Mustard Greens: Mustard greens are the vegetable equivalent of long noodles, meaning that they also symbolize longevity.
Do you have any lunar new year favourite dishes? Let us know in the comment section.
Mud pies in the back garden. Learning how to knit. Being driven to dance, choir, piano or school. Honing my green thumb. Helping me through university. Passing on the family history.
These are just a handful of things I was blessed to experience with my grandparents over the years. I was fortunate to grow up with all four of them, and I always say – they raised me as much as my parents did. When I became an adult, I gained newfound respect for them; I began to know them as people.
Six years ago, in a full-time job and married, both grandmothers began facing serious health challenges. One was falling deeper into the complexities of dementia, and one had broken her hip – reducing her ability to get out and about the way she used to.
I wanted desperately to throw everything away and be a full-time granddaughter, but my head knew that work was both a financial necessity and ironically, a back door means of self-care for myself.
My mom, who was also still working full-time, said wisely “Work has a routine and ends but caregiving keeps going”.
Photo: Both of my grandmas
So how did we find a balance between caregiving and work?
There is no one answer, as each caregiving case has its own unique challenges. My advice is always to wholly explore and exhaust all options.
- Cast your net wide! Do not be afraid to ask people for help; friends, coworkers, church members, etc.
- Explore all subsidized supports: Home Support, Better at Home, adult day programs, Handy Dart, caregiver tax benefits, supportive housing, etc.
- Explain your situation to your employer – communicating your challenges is key. Use your sick days, use your vacation time. If you have an Employee Assistance Program, talk to a professional from time to time.
- Research financial alternatives to assist with caregiving; loans, lines of credit, etc.
- Dig deep and practice self-care. Even if all that consists of is taking an extra 5 minutes to breathe before you get out of the car.
- Remember the love. In 2016 I bid farewell to both grandmothers, aged 94 and 101 respectively. An interesting aspect of my grief is that I am remembering them not as frail and sick, as they were in their final days – but as they were before all of that. It was an absolute privilege to have them by my side for all thirty-seven of my years.
Kari Chambers has worked with Seniors for the past twelve years, at Collingwood Neighbourhood House; Tsleil-Waututh Nation; and currently with the BC Association of Community Response Networks. She is also a member of North Shore Community Resources’ Better at Home/North Shore Caregivers advisory board.
I recently did a workshop on Appreciative Inquiry, a facilitation tool that focuses on strengths. To practise, the members of the class told positive stories of social change. People told their stories in small groups, and a few tellers even cried when they recounted how individuals and organizations lifted other people out of a negative place by believing, inspiring, and leading a movement of change.
The whole premise of Appreciative Inquiry is to focus on the positive aspects. Most of the time, the “problem” is the point of focus and our energies are spent in trying to solve “the problem.” In team environments, this focus can actually be corrosive to interpersonal dynamics. If you’ve been in groups where it often resorts to blame, you may know what I am talking about.
The act of appreciation among different individuals brings about a different response. The members of the group are inspired to think about possibilities and connect with each other through the sharing of driving values.
I believe we can bring this philosophy into our everyday lives. Have you heard the saying, “you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar”? When interacting with others, you have an opportunity to draw upon their strengths. Vocalize their positives, express how you appreciate them, and see what results.
In my own personal experience, this approach has led me to better connections with others because they trust and appreciate me too. What did you find?
You might be juggling a few responsibilities in your life- working outside the home, caring for a spouse or parent, and managing a household full of people. Amidst the demands of your everyday life, it is a wonderful thing to pause and find a moment of connection. A simple three minutes of slowing down is all you need. This is a time set aside for visualizing what you would like MORE OF in your life, and can provide some much-deserved nourishment for your mind and body.
Visualizing is about noticing and appreciating the great things that are already in your life, as well as inviting positive experiences to come your way. Uplifting mental images give your brain a break from stress, and can significantly recharge your energy.
It’s not about avoiding a thought, it’s about finding another thought.
I suggest trying these steps:
1. Get in a comfortable chair. Close your eyes and allow your body to relax against the chair. Feel how you are supported in this simple act of sitting.
2.Visualize 1 activity that you enjoy doing with a friend or family member. Picture the colours and sounds you experience. Notice your own facial expression as you participate in this enjoyable moment.
3.Imagine that you are sitting alone with a cup of tea or coffee alone. What does the mug look like? How does the drink feel as you sip? Pay attention to feelings of relaxation. Let these peaceful feelings radiate through your body.
Here is a resource for accessible visualizing exercises: http://www.self-help-and-self-development.com/visualization-exercises.html
It can be helpful to write down your feelings and thoughts after the exercise, as an inspiration to make it a part of your daily routine.
Remember to enjoy it! Don’t think too hard … Allow the images to find you.
Despite the fact that many feel money or objects will never be an issue for their family, the inheritance can be a major source of strife among siblings. Even if there is little money to be shared in the inheritance, siblings can fight over sentimental family heirlooms.
Any inheritance that is unequally divided among siblings can be a painful experience and can damage relationships because the reality is that we equate a parent’s consideration of us in their will with love.
The most important thing to do to avoid this conflict is to have your parent clearly outline their wishes in their will so that you can use the document as a reference for when they are no longer able to make those decisions.
As well, it is helpful if your parent can explain their decisions to your family themselves. If they are already unable to make these decisions and there is no surviving spouse, the law will divide their assets evenly among their surviving children. However, conflict can still arise as siblings have emotional connection to mementos like your mother’s wedding china set or your father’s beloved guitar.
One way to mediate a conflict over inheritance is to have a family meeting with a trained counsellor. Clear communication facilitated by a professional early on in the dispute will help everyone identify their feelings behind the inheritance and heirlooms in order to find an agreeable solution.
Have you had a conflict over inheritance? How did you resolve it? We’d love to hear your stories in the comment section or you can send it anonymously to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are your instructions to de-stress in a minute:
- Close your door. Turn off your phone. Get comfortable.
- Lightly spray your favorite perfume or Eau de Toilette onto your wrists or inside your elbows.
- To add ambience, play your favorite music. Alternatively, enjoy silence and disconnect completely.
- Close your eyes and slowly breathe in. Count to four. Count to four again as you breathe out, allowing your mind to clear. Let the scent soothe your soul and revitalize your spirit.
- After only a minute or two, you’re ready to go about your day feeling renewed.
- Remember to pause and breathe. It only takes a minute to de-stress.
Enjoy your downtime!
(Thanks to Crabtree & Evelyn for their suggestions.)
“When you tidy, you gain a little confidence. You start to believe in the future. Things begin to go more smoothly. The people you meet change. Unexpected things happen in a positive way. Change begins to accelerate. And you begin to really enjoy your life.”
― Marie Kondō
Marie Kondō‘s books “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” and “Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up” are best-sellers for a reason. They highlight the peace and happiness that comes from external order. She asks her reader to go through their house and hold every item in their hands to ask:
Does this spark joy?
So much of what we own does not spark joy. We hold onto old projects that bring us guilt because we have never gotten around to completing. We hold on to clothes in case we ever make it back to their sizes. We hold onto stacks of paper to procrastinate organizing them into files or folders.
She has a point – we can hold on to belongings for the wrong reasons.
The more belongings we accumulate, the more clutter we have in our environment. Our homes become less a place of refuge and more a nagging mess. This wreaks havoc on our interior state because we don’t have a space to escape and recharge.
Though the thought of tackling your home in entirety may seem enormous, I invite you to mindfully de-clutter a surface or two to see how this affects how you feel.
As you sort through the items, ask yourself:
Why am I holding onto this item?
Do I even need this item?
How do I feel about this item?
How does this item contribute to how I want this area of my home to be?
How can my belongings better serve the environment I want?
When you start to clear your clutter mindfully, you will begin to recognize that the negative emotions about your space are replaced with positive ones. You will garner a sense of control and achievement – however slight – that can inspire you to bring to different aspects of your life.
What did you discover in this process? We’d love to hear your insights in our comment section.