five minutes of meditation is my reset button because respite is not an option

It has taken me almost 10 years to figure out that I actually have a reset button and that I’m allowed to hit it when needed! My husband has a C4/C5 spinal cord injury and as his primary caregiver for going on 10 years, along with caring physically (alone) for our almost 10 year old, I’ve hit my limit often.

However, every time I did, I pulled myself back from the brink only a little thinking it was all I needed and all I could allow myself at that time. I mean, how do you, as a caregiver, allow yourself respite time when your husband cannot take care of himself AT ALL and when your young child needs you desperately? So really, I didn’t allow myself time and mentally wasn’t in a place where I could allow it to happen. Everyone told me to take time and everyone told me I needed it and deserved it but until I believed it, it wouldn’t happen.

So hitting the reset button didn’t actually happen until I understood and accepted that I needed to do it and needed to allow myself to do it. Sure, my husband told me to take the time but again, until I (me, myself and I) allowed it to happen, it wasn’t going to happen. So now, when I know when I get close to the breaking point (I get short and angry and mean with my family), I need to totally step away from the situation.

Sometimes, the reset is a nap. Sometimes it’s a car ride around the block. Sometimes it’s a walk down the driveway. Sometimes it’s a night away if all works out as planned! But most times, it’s 15 minutes alone in my room doing deep breathing and stretching. I’d say yoga but it’s really just stretching… I sit cross legged on my dog’s bed and lean as far forward as possible and stretch my back out and breathe… I used the Headspace App to meditate for a few weeks and now, when I need the time, I can sit in my room, stretch and breathe and do a 5 minute faux-meditation.

That’s usually how I reset since while I’d love respite care, I know that I will never, ever be okay with doing that knowing my husband and my daughter need me. So if the time I have to take for myself is only a few minutes, that’s okay since I know I can calm myself down and relax and then get back in the game.

Erin Hayes

Written by Guest Author
The Caregiver Space accepts contributions from experts for The Caregiver's Toolbox and provides a platform for all caregivers in Caregiver Stories. Please read our author guidelines for more information and use our contact form to submit guest articles.

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7 Comments

  1. Very good on point , however , .. do not rule out respite you’re health care may include a time away from the stress without guilt.

    Reply
  2. If not for meditation I would have given up years ago. I do It several times a day.

    Reply
  3. These kind of articles frustrate me. What is needed is advocacy groups lobbying Washington and states for help. Caregiver fatality and suicide is on the rise. You can post a million articles but without a voice it’s just words. If there is a lobbying group please post because I’ve lost 6 solo caregivers in the last two years from sudden fatal heart attacks. Two to suicide. One life is too many and those going into midlife make plans now so you never do this to your children. I didn’t have a child so they can become hopeless at what should have been my responsibility to plan ahead

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  4. Perfect approach. We would all love to have the respite get away, but it’s much more important to learn to build those moments of respite into our everyday caregiving lives.

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  5. It may sound selfish but after being a caregiver for 2 family members at different times I’m retired.

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