Emotional First Aid for Caregivers: SOS Insomnia By Calm Pond

Emotional First aid

Lately I’ve been going through a period of insomnia, but it’s getting better, slowly. Rather than rely on pills, I took an online course on insomnia (cbt-i, see previous post https://northvancaregivers.wordpress.com/2018/07/11/my-summer-with-cbt-i/ ), and learned about something called a ‘sleep window’. A sleep window is the optimal time during which you will fall asleep. For me, this was 2:00 am. But what to do until then?
I began getting creative. A book I read (Jennifer Hallissy ‘The Write Start : A Guide to Nurturing Writing at Every Stage, From Scribbling to Forming Letters and Writing Stories’ 2010) had a recipe for playdough and I thought, why not? Here is the recipe:

No Fail Playdough

1 cup warm water
1 cup salt
2 Tbsp Cream of Tartar (look for it in the baking aisle)
2 Tbsp veg oil
Combine the above ingredients. Wait till mixture cools a bit. Mix in 2-3 cups of white flour (as much as you need to make a firm dough, but don’t add too much at once). You can divide the dough into balls and colour it with food colouring. Stores in a tightly covered container in the fridge for 6 months. Halve the recipe if you do not want such a large quantity of dough. It works just fine.
Bake your creations at 275 degrees F. The time they need to bake varies on size of creation.


I found that as I kneaded the dough, I felt more relaxed. Karyn Davies of NSCR says this is due to the fact that as you knead, the left and right hemispheres of the brain harmonize. This is an intriguing idea. I did find that if I engaged in a creative activity, I felt more relaxed and did, eventually fall asleep.
It’s not the perfect cure but it sure beats staying up all night.
In conclusion, I came up with a little rhyme:
We all need to be needed,
We all need to knead.
May you sleep the sleep of the just tonight,

Calm Pond


Emotional First-Aid for Caregivers (EFAC): Frustration

Today we’re introducing a new series on the North Van Caregivers blog: Emotional First-Aid for Caregivers (EFAC). We created this series in hopes of supporting unpaid family caregivers through the triggering emotions that often come up on the caregiving journey. These posts should help you to identify the difficult emotions you’re experiencing and give you some tools to work through them quickly. You can print off the image or save it to your phone for easy reference.

Please remember to seek support if you’re noticing the same emotions coming up over and over again, either from a network group or a professional counsellor or therapist. Extra support is often needed and helpful when you’re finding yourself stuck or suffering. 


What other emotions would you like us to cover? Please let us know in our comments!


Cassandra Van Dyck

Mindful Monday no. 70 – How to Let Go

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“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” 

– Lao Tzu

Letting go is a choice that we make to free ourselves of  unmet expectations and idealist notions of how something should be. It is about embracing what is, rather than clinging to what we want to happen. 

Letting go is also about stopping our attempts to control of a circumstance, a person, or an outcome. It is radical acceptance. 

We need to let go of many situations in our life. Bitterness and resentment can grab a hold of us if we do not actively let go of these emotions. We stay in toxic relationships, we remain in dysfunctional situations when we do not let go. As you become aware of the need to let go, consciously make the effort to release your feelings and focus on the present and your own well-being (here are some ideas from Tiny Buddha!) . 

Here are 9 affirmations to recite when you need to let go: 

  1. I let go of situations that do not serve me to make room for opportunities that will fuel me. 
  2. I let go of the need to control and I allow the moment to happen. 
  3. I let go of the need to judge others and focus on my own happiness. 
  4. I release my emotions as a way of letting go. 
  5. I let go of the past and focus on the present moment. 
  6. I let go of the need to control others and the stress that accompanies this need. 
  7. By forgiving others, I become free. 
  8. I let go of the past and I am free to move forward with my life. 
  9. I honour my emotions by expressing and releasing them. 

Do you have any tips for letting go? Please share them in our comment section. 


The 5 Stages of Grief by Kubler-Ross


The five stages –  denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief.

-Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

In Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ book, On Grief and Grieving, the author created the five stages of grief:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance and hope

Despite the fact that Kubler-Ross never intended them to represent a set process, the five stages of grief have created a societal perspective of grief that has hindered the griever’s process.

If you’ve felt like people are surprised that you are still dealing with the loss of a loved one (or a job or a marriage, etc), know that there is nothing wrong.  Anyone that experiences loss can identify with these stages but it is not a set process. In fact, we may never see the end of our grief. Years later, something could trigger our emotions and we can experience the depths of our despair once again.



A Poem to Inspire: Rumi’s The Guest House


Recently, I came across the poem, The Guest House, by Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet. It is a beautiful reminder to allow your emotions to flow, even in the most difficult circumstances.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jellaludin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks

Rumi still remains one of the world`s most popular poets, with his works translated into multiple languages.