3 reasons why the waiting room is a gift for caregivers

Time takes on a different shape when the waiting room becomes our residence.

It’s hardly a sanctuary. Full of anxiety and a symbol that we’re not in control, we wait. We wait because were told to, because there are no answers, because there’s nothing we can do. We’re just relegated to being there in the semi-public next to other people’s trauma and drama, cheap magazines, background television noise and not much else.

In the time that follows, we’ll resume caregiving. But now we just wait, for something, for anything to happen. As caregivers, our work is determined by what we can bring to the table: our reassuring presence, our wound care and meals, errands, consolation, physical therapy, patience and empathy. We’re not just mindless drones dispensing pills and pouring soup– our energy and calmness is essential to the shoes we fill. How sustainable are we? Only as much as our minds are ready for the task.

10 Activities for the Waiting RoomWaiting time is sacred time.

Visits can be seen as breaks in your own hubbub and havoc. There needn’t be guilt for claiming this time for yourself. Does worry and anxiety make you more loyal? We’re waiting because we’re dedicated to showing up. In the time that follows, that time is for you.

This time is for self-reflection and restoration. Consider these choices the next time you find yourself waiting.

1. Breathe

It doesn’t need to be spiritual or branded with some fancy technique, just consider doing it consciously. When life get’s crazy, our stress expands and our natural breath contracts. Notice the difference and the depth you can inflate and exhale your lungs when you pay attention to it. Breathing is one of the most direct ways we can release tense muscles that contract under sustained stress. We often don’t notice the ways our body changes until we yield and take note.

2. Scribble Mindlessly

With doctor’s appointments, medications, and a hundred other tasks and responsibilities constantly on our minds, sometimes we just need to create some empty space and time where we can zone out. Grab a pad from the nurse’s station and just let your hand trace and groove over the page. This is not about art, though it certainly can be if you like. The idea here is to give you brain a task with no outcome it needs to reach. You can even close your eyes as your pen waves and wiggles across the page. The idea is to let you brain off the hook and zone out. We often need to be doing something mindless to get there and our hands can unlock that door.

3. Journal and Reflect

More often than not, creating time to share and express how we’ve been feeling lately take a backstage to our daily duties. Consider harvesting this time to lay out on the page recent thoughts, reflections, frustrations and ideas that have been floating around in your brain from the past week. It can be angry, stupid, random and uplifting. It can be poetry or prose, it can be repetitive, weird, sad– just make it honest. You can even toss it out when you’re done. We all need a release point. Journaling can serve as one. It’s what keeps us sane and healthy. And if we’re not sane and healthy, how good of a caregiver can we expect ourselves to be?

These are all activities and ways we can loosen up our minds, our hearts and our bodies from the stresses that caregiving asks us to endure. For twenty minutes or two hours, there’s a choice in how we spend the waking moments in which we wait.

These are options you can gift yourself in service of more sustainable care.

Photo credit: Cesare

Written by Jonah Okun
Jonah served as our Operations Director for two years. He holds a degree in Comparative Digital Communications and Happiness Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His intrigue in promoting well-being through new digital platforms pairs perfectly with the organizations goal of making online support for caregivers a reality. Prior to his time at The Caregiver Space, he spent seven years as a professional chef, baker and restaurant manager.

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  1. If we log in through Facebook, are our comments shown on my FB for the world to see, or is this private? Do I need to log in another way?

    • Logging in through Facebook won’t post anything on Facebook, it just saves you from having to remember another password. In fact, we keep separate forums because Facebook is so public.

  2. Interesting. I sat in the waiting area of our local hospital yesterday afternoon while my husband was having an MRI to determine the cause of his new onset back pain and sciatica. My sibs were back at my home taking care of my ALS-stricken Mom while I took care of my husband. I realized while sitting there that both of the people I am care-giving for now were in the hands of someone else for a short little space of time. I was sitting there alone. I realized that this was my brief moment of respite. I took a deep breath and decided to relish the moment. And I did.

  3. Good points..last time we were in the Drs waiting in the lobby met some really nice people and chatted with them to pass the time..

  4. Excellent idea for using the down time of the waiting room. This is one of the only times where there is no physical activity related to caregiving or housekeeping that needs to be done.
    Taking time to breathe and get centered is essential to maintaining a degree of peace and sanity in an otherwise busy existence.


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