Our modern world summons us to support one another in myriad ways—sometimes sweet and simple, while other times highly demanding. An unemployed friend might compel us to offer financial support, or an elderly neighbor might need grocery delivery. From frontline hospital workers fighting coronavirus to parents spending long hours homeschooling their children, caregiving in the pandemic era takes many forms. Whether you are in such a role professionally or informally, it pays to be aware of related risks and actively manage your own well-being.
In a recent two-part series of iRest Sangha Sessions, Stephanie Lopez provided meditative tools and guidance to help caregivers and healthcare workers thrive.
While caregiving taps our innate human desire to connect and gives rise to a flush of positive emotions, the feelings become complicated when our own needs are not met. A person who acclimates to an overabundance of suffering, for example, might “numb out” and lose compassion. This sure sign of burnout can appear along with the following:
- Physical Illness
While Stephanie offers a few approaches to avoiding burnout, one stands out as a “no-brainer”: The power of taking small breaks cannot be underestimated. A few moments of downtime does wonders—whether spent on a meditative practice or for a favorite activity like dancing, painting, or strolling in the woods.
John O'Donohue was an Irish poet, priest, and philosopher. His poem “For a Nurse” reminds us all—but especially healthcare professionals—to pause and nourish ourselves. Savor this excerpt, feel your inner well replenish, and know that, as a caregiver, you are treasured as a “secret angel”.
May you embrace the beauty in what you do
And how you stand like a secret angel
Between the bleak despair of illness
And the unquenchable light of spirit
That can turn the darkest destiny towards dawn.
May you never doubt the gifts you bring;
Rather, learn from these frontiers
Wisdom for your own heart.
May you come to inherit
The blessings of your kindness
And never be without care and love
When winter enters your own life.