How to Let Go

balloon-984229_640

“Some of us think that holding on is what makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.” – Herman Hesse

What does it mean to let go?

Depending on where you’re at in your caregiving journey, the idea might seem appealing, terrifying, or impossible.

If you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, letting go can look like reaching a place where you’re able to focus more on your own life and less on the life you once led as a caregiver. If you’re new to your caregiving role, letting go might mean relinquishing some control over how you wish things could be, and accepting that they are the way they are.

Letting go evokes feelings of acceptance and freedom. It’s a release of pain, fear, anger, or stress. It brings your mind out of the past or future and in to the present. It allows others to support you because you are letting go of the need to control your situation.

How do you let go? Here are a few tips:

Take inventory. | If you know that you need to let go, then you know you are holding on to something that isn’t serving you. Take some time to reflect on how you’re doing and what is in the way of feeling you better. Try not to rush yourself. Becoming a caregiver or losing a loved one is a journey, and deciding to let go of emotions is not an easy decision.

Get support. | Join a network group, talk to a friend or family member, reach out to a professional counsellor or therapist. We were never meant to do it all alone, and it is so much easier to work through difficult emotions when you have support.

Every day, do one thing that lights you up. | Practicing self-care and doing one thing every day that makes you happy can remind your body and mind that there are feelings other than the heavy ones that you want to let go of. Dance in your living room, visit your local swimming pool, or sing along to your favourite song. Grab on to the small pleasures in life that bring you joy.

 

Cassandra Van Dyck

 

Advertisements

The Lazy Woman’s (and Man’s) Guide to Yoga: An Interview with Taylore Daniel

Taylore Photo 2015 b (3)

Hi Taylore! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. We see your book, “The Lazy Woman’s Guide to Yoga”, as a wonderful resource for caregivers. Caregivers often struggle to find time for self-care. Your pose suggestions can be done anywhere, anytime. Not only does yoga help ease sore muscles, it can help caregivers feel better emotionally so they can support their loved ones and take care of themselves.

Can you tell us about what inspired you to write the book “The Lazy Woman’s Guide to Yoga?”

Well, there’s a lot of people who’d like to do yoga, but at the same time, yoga can feel intimidating and inconvenient. It usually involves a one-hour class outside the home. It involves floorwork, a change of clothes, a teacher, and poses that might feel strange or risky. So what inspired me to write this book was the desire to help people practice yoga in an easy, effortless way that fits their schedule, can be done sitting on a chair at home or out and about doing errands… no floorwork, special attire or teacher required.

How has yoga changed your life?

Yoga has been a part of my life since I was a child, when I took my mom’s Hatha Yoga book off the shelf and began going through it page by page, copying the poses. Throughout my life, there’s been times I’ve practiced yoga regularly. And other times, not. When it’s a regular part of my life, I feel strong, my joints are supple, I feel energetic and grounded. When I fail to practice, I begin to feel creaky, puffy and a little sluggish. There’s a direct relationship between yoga and quality of life, and the older I get the more direct this relationship becomes. 

Could you recommend a pose that helps give people energy first thing in the morning?

A fabulous energizing move in the morning is what I call “flying.” Simply put, raise and lower your arms at your sides, as if you were a bird. Moving our arms above our head pumps blood and oxygen to our brain, increasing alertness and clarity. As well, it loosens up and revitalizes the arms, shoulders and back, and gets the spinal fluid flowing through our body and lubricating our joints. Not to mention, this flowing move feels absolutely wonderful. (And it can even be done while you’re watching television or reading email.)

How about one for winding down in the evening?

A great way to wind down in the evening is with the breath. When we exhale longer than we inhale, our entire nervous system begins to calm. Inhaling slowly to a count of 2, and exhaling to a count of 4, you will almost instantly sense your shoulders relaxing, the muscles of your jaw and forehead becoming softer, your mind quieting. Feel the breath reach right down into the belly and your whole body will begin to relax.

I love the chapter in your book on tapping! It’s not something I’ve heard about often when reading about yoga. What would you say to someone who’s hesitant about trying it?

Using our fingertips, the palm of our hand, or a loose fist to gently and softly tap our limbs, our backs, our stomach or any other part of our body is a safe and effective practice that releases physical tension and knots. Try it right now, and see how it feels. It’s effortless and can be done anywhere, whether it’s behind the wheel of your car or waiting in a line up. Tapping also brings fresh oxygen and blood to the skin, so has the effect of giving us a lift.

An inevitable part of the caregiving journey is grief. Are there any yoga or tapping exercises that are especially good for coping with loss or changes of a loved one? 

As well as releasing physical tensions and knots, tapping relieves emotional stresses like grief, loss and anxiety. One effective tapping exercise is to, first of all, identify where the feeling of grief is located in your body. Is it your throat? Chest? Stomach? Once you’ve located where in your body the feeling sits, softly tap that spot with the pads of your fingers. You’ll find this simple exercise emotionally soothing, calming and nurturing.

Finally, what would you say to someone who tells you, “Yoga is not for me.”

When someone says, “Yoga isn’t for me,” I get it. There can be a sense of insurmountable obstacles with any new practice, including yoga. “Where will I find the time?” “What if I can’t sit on the floor in lotus position?” “What if I don’t live near a yoga studio?”

The main reason I wrote “The Lazy Woman’s (and Man’s) Guide to Yoga” is to make yoga so effortless and convenient that anyone can practice it, whether there’s time issues, mobility issues, or motivation issues. The key is to simply begin where you’re at, taking a moment here and there, seated comfortably or standing, at home or in the midst of running errands. The benefits from even a few seconds of yoga throughout your day are immeasurable.

Do you have anything else to add?

Thanks so much Cassandra for your great questions! They were thoughtful and practical, and I really appreciate you taking the time to ask.

Thank you so much, Taylore!

 

Taylore Daniel is a yoga teacher and personal trainer. “The Lazy Woman’s Guide to Yoga” and “The Lazy Man’s Guide to Yoga” are at Amazon.ca/com, Banyen Books, and other Vancouver bookshops. www.tayloredaniel.com

The Lazy Woman’s Guide to Yoga” and “The Lazy Man’s Guide to Yoga” is at Amazon.ca/com, Banyen Books, and other local Vancouver bookshops. Visit Taylore at www.tayloredaniel.com

 

 

How to Practice Self-Care in 5 Minutes

lady in the sun

You might be feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders today. You’re trying to run more errands than you have time for and you just remembered you forgot that important thing you were supposed to do last week. Maybe you’ve been swallowing some tough emotions and haven’t been able to connect with that person in your life who’s a wonderful listener. Practicing self-care might be the last thing on your mind.

Do you have 5 minutes to spare? Just 5.

Click here for a list of 98 ways to practice self-care in 5 minutes or less, or try any of the following suggestions. How did you feel after?

STRETCH | Stand up and raise your arms slowly over your head. Roll your head from side to side. Interested in yoga but not sure you have time? Read The Lazy Woman’s Guide to Yoga to learn how to practice yoga anywhere, anytime!

MEDITATE | Try this 5 minute guided meditation.

DANCE | Put on a song you love and let loose!

CALL A FRIEND | Sometimes when we’re having a tough day, what we need most is to connect. Pick up your phone and call someone who always makes you smile. If you can’t get a hold of them, leave a message and tell them you’d love to talk soon.

How do you practice self-care in 5 minutes or less? We’d love to hear from you in our comments!

Cassandra Van Dyck

A Loving Kindness Guided Meditation

autumn-1551706_640

How was your holiday weekend? You might be feeling tired today, or perhaps a little stressed. Holidays and dinners can be fun and relaxing, but they can also feel stressful and involve a lot of work! Today is a great day for a little self-care. 

Have you tried loving kindness meditation?

Read all about it here. 

Set aside 20 minutes for yourself today. Create a space in your home that you find calming and peaceful. Make a cup of tea, or if you have some extra time, run a hot bath. Once you’re comfortable, take a comfortable seat, and try this guided meditation.

 

Cassandra Van Dyck

3 Tiny Indulgences

physiotherapy-2133286_640

Practicing self-care does not, and should not, cost money. 

This is important to remember, to share, and to practice. Although many practitioners offer valuable services, self-care is often marketed to the public by companies and individuals to make money. Self-care can and should be practiced by all caregivers so that you are giving yourself the same care and attention that you give to your loved ones. For some tips on practising self-care, click here. 

Every now and then, however, it can be nice to spend a small amount of money and indulge in tiny indulgences that makes you smile and relax.

Here are three ideas:

FOOT OR CHAIR MASSAGE | If you would like to relax, search your neighbourhood for practitioners that offer foot reflexology or chair massage. The cost of these services tends to be less, and deals can often be found on groupon.

PASTRY AND A WARM DRINK | There are so many cafes on the North Shore, and for under $5, you should be able to purchase a delicious treat and drink. If you’re worried about the price, opt for drip coffee or a cup of tea. Carve out an hour to sit at the coffee shop and read a book or a newspaper, write in a journal, or do nothing but enjoy your treat.

SAUNA OR HOT TUB |Drop-in to a local rec centre and spend some time in the sauna or hot tub. It should cost no more than $6 to spend a couple of hours relaxing and rejuvenating.

What sorts of tiny indulgences do you splurge on? We’d love to hear from you in our comments!

 

Cassandra Van Dyck

 

Mindful Monday no. 56 – Random Acts of Kindness

img_9966.jpg

I live with my small family in a small apartment in North Vancouver. We are lucky enough to live close to the mountains, to grocery stores stocked with healthy foods, good coffee shops, clean parks, and good public transit. Unfortunately, we do not have a balcony or a yard, which means we don’t have access to space for growing flowers or food. Last summer while walking with my then tiny baby, I noticed a neighbour who lives in a big, beautiful home had left out buckets filled with bundled bouquets. There was a sign next to the buckets that said, “Take a bunch.” I smiled, picked a colourful bunch, and carried it home. It made me so happy that these generous neighbours continued to offer free bouquets this summer. I keep an eye out for the red buckets on their lawn every time I pass by their home, and recently have started collecting bouquets to hand out to other locals on my walks. I love watching the smile that spreads across someone’s face when they’re offered flowers with no expectation for payment and for no reason at all.

Receiving a random act of kindness, like a free bouquet of flowers, can change someone’s day. Choosing to deliver a random act of kindness will change yours.

Have you ever been having a tough or stressful day and then made eye contact with someone as you’ve held the door for them? How did you feel after that small interaction? Maybe you exchanged a smile or they nodded in appreciation. Did you feel differently than before?

Today, I invite you to do one random act of kindness for someone else. How did you feel before? How did you feel after? Write your observations down, or share them with a loved one.

Need some ideas for ways to provide random acts of kindness? Here’s a few:

hold the door open for someone

tell a joke

leave a kind note on a stranger’s windshield

pick some flowers for a neighbour

buy the person in line behind you a coffee

 

What kinds of random acts of kindness have you provided or received? We’d love to hear from you.

 

Cassandra Van Dyck

 

 

Mindful Monday no. 55 – The Decompression Routine

lavender-1595608_640

As a caregiver, you likely play many roles in your day. You might be providing personal care or assisting your loved one with their errands. You might be caring for your own children in addition to caring for a parent or a spouse. There’s a good possibility that you fill all these roles and more throughout the day.

Have you ever thought about how you transition from one role to the next? What about when you finally find yourself alone at the end of the day… how do you transition from caring for others to caring for yourself?

Your roles may seem to blend together seamlessly. Blurred lines might help you cope with all you have to do, but creating boundaries and a decompression routine can help you to be present and to “turn off” your brain at the end of the day.

I was first introduced to the idea of a decompression routine by a dear friend who worked as a massage therapist. This friend told me that after her clients left, she would carefully and mindfully wash each hand and arm. The routine brought her closure to the session and helped her leave whatever came up in the appointment behind her. This helped her to be present with the following client, or to move on from her work day to her personal time. Another friend would turn off her work cell phone in her drive way and spend a few minutes in her car reflecting on her day before closing the door and entering her home. This conscious choice allowed her to be present with her partner without letting her work day influence her mood once she was home.

Depending on what your life and days look like, your decompression routine could look a number of ways. You might practice the routine multiple times a day or have different rituals depending on what you’ve been doing or what you’re going to be doing. I encourage you to try out different things and see what works for you. Practice whatever you choose to do for a few days and pay attention to your mood. Does the routine make a difference?

If you’re unsure of where to start, here are a few ideas:

Take a warm bath half an hour before bed. A cleansing ritual can relax you and prepare your body and mind for a restful sleep.

Write in a journal first thing in the morning. Note a few things you’re grateful for and reflect on where you’re at. Writing regularly can help you to be more present because you’re allowing yourself time get perspective.

Take a page out of my friend’s book at wash your hands mindfully. Spending a few extra seconds or minutes to really focus on what you’re doing can calm your mind and give yourself a moment to pause in your day.

Spend one or two minutes before each new activity and do a mindfulness or breathing exercise.

Do you have a decompression routine? We’d love to hear from you in our comments!

 

Cassandra Van Dyck

Mindful Monday no. 54 – A Writing Exercise to Encourage Self-Kindness

a writing exercise to encourage self-kindness

Set aside half an hour and find an inspiring place in your home, outside in a park, or in your favourite coffee shop and get out a pen and paper. Read the instructions, then set a timer for 10 minutes and write without stopping.

Think of someone you love dearly and picture them in the same situation you are in. What would you say to them if they said they were struggling to do everything as well as they wanted to? Would you encourage them to work harder, or would you tell them to be easier on themselves and remind them of all the good they’re doing? Write a letter to a friend who is going through exactly the same thing you are. What would you tell them?

How did that feel? Treating ourselves with the same love and care we’d treat someone else with is a helpful way to get some perspective. Our expectations of self are usually far greater than what we expect from others.

 

For the full article, click here. 

Cassandra Van Dyck

Mindful Monday no. 53 – Self-Care Within A Busy Life: Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

16086503254_924854973e_z[1]

For a brief overview of MBSR, please see one of our previous posts.

I have much respect for skills that are cultivated over time, such as metalwork, gardening, and pottery. There is something wholesome and nurturing about choosing to build practical knowledge and skill in an area that means something to you. MBSR is a skill that can be learned by most people, and is a way of being present that enhances quality of life. Read on to hear more 🙂

I had the pleasure of doing a phone interview with Dr. Kasim Al-Mashat to learn more about MBSR from a real-life perspective. During our conversation I appreciated Kasim’s warm demeanour and was struck by the authenticity with which he spoke about what MBSR has meant in his own life. Rather than being a “quick fix,” MBSR is a way of approaching life that gets us “Tapping into our deepest inner wisdom.”

What drew you to explore MBSR?

In the midst of a too-busy life, filled with studies and work in the field of psychology, Kasim found himself approaching burnout. He had grieved the loss of several loved ones, and developed a health condition that forced him to slow down; his usual activities coming to a complete stop. “This was my first experience at looking into life.” After Kasim recovered he went back to his overly busy, often stressful life with a newly discovered curiosity about what sorts of coping strategies could be complimentary to medical care and psychology. Related to care of the self, Kasim began questioning “What else is there?” besides common notions such as eating healthy, exercise, and getting enough sleep etc. In his curiosity, Kasim recognized there was a gap in his own practice of self-care.

“How we navigate the tragedies affects the quality of our lives.” Kasim states that while it’s simple, MBSR isn’t easy. “It takes practice to train the mind to be present.” Mindfulness based stress reduction helps one recognize their normal patterns in daily life (that have been developed over time), and to meet challenges in a new way. This kind of mindfulness is experiential in that you will be exploring your life and investigating what patterns and tendencies are there.

What if I feel uncertain about trying MBSR? Will I be any good at it?

While learning the ways of MBSR takes patience, it helps to remember that the nature of the human mind is to be distracted and busy with thoughts. You’re not alone! “You don’t need a calm mind in order to meditate.” That is a very helpful point to have clarity on- thank you Kasim!

Caregivers, as you continue to provide practical care, meals, care and comfort to your loved one(s), this is one way to strengthen your coping abilities, allowing you to deal more calmly with all that is required of you- or as some call it, “to keep your sanity.”

“This is an opportunity to nurture yourself.” Kasim points out that extensive research shows structural changes happen in the brain (over a period of time) when people meditate. We can see through scientific proof that mindfulness and meditation are beneficial for one’s mental, emotional and physical health.

Where you can learn MBSR:

Kasim also holds free MBSR info sessions (1.5 hours) to give people a chance to see if this is for them (dates and locations are on his site). He also holds meditation retreats for those interested. You don’t need to have any experience with mindfulness in order to join these sessions. For more information, click here. 

Finally, remember that it’s YOUR choice of whether a particular approach will work for you. After being open-minded and giving the practice a wee try, asking “Does this appeal to me?” is helpful in deciding which stress relief methods you prefer to focus on.
The main thing is that you have SOMETHING positive which helps you to cope, and maybe even to see the beauties of life within the many challenges.

-Karyn

Mindful Monday no. 52: A Nightly Review Meditation

A beautiful Mindful Monday post from the archives! Happy BC Day, everyone!

photo-1444080748397-f442aa95c3e5.jpg

There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.”

-Bernard Williams

A new day is a fresh start, a chance to wipe the slate clean and begin again. A nightly review meditation can be a helpful tool to regroup and let go of ruminating thoughts and negative self-talk, particularly after a challenging day. It is an opportunity to set an intention for the day, taking into account all the things that matter to you.

A nightly review meditation is not supposed to be about what was done wrong, focusing on missed opportunities or wasted energy, but about how trying to learn how to be more mindful and present in our lives.

At the end of the day, take some moments for this nightly review meditation. Get comfortable, dim the lights, and sit in quiet contemplation. You can do this in bed as part of a sleep ritual or you can sit upright.

As you see yourself ease into the meditation, call to mind the events of the day. Remember:

  • How were you feeling?
  • How present was I in the moments of the day?
  • What are you struggling with today?
  • What are you stuck on, repeating in your mind?
  • How could you have handled a situation better?
  • What made you feel content?
  • What did you do to practice self-care today?
  • What are you grateful for today?

Instead of ruminating on these answers, notice any negative thoughts, such as: why did I do that, say that, react in that way? Once the thoughts are noticed, let them go by recalling another situation-a more pleasant event-that can help to restore some balance.

The challenging emotions can be gently worked out by setting an intention for the following day. Even if these challenges are unavoidable, ask yourself: in what ways, can I show up for myself tomorrow? Make sure to set goals for your own well-being and not solely for your caregiving responsibilities.

Once you have completed your nightly review meditation, recite an affirmation to close. Personally, I like this one:

The day is over and I am letting go. I release the struggles and successes of the day to make room for tomorrow. I am grateful for the present moment, for my ability to rest and restore. 

Have a great rest tonight!

Lindsay