Learning from the Past, Living in the Present
Many people dwell on events in the past. This is not an inherently wrong habit, but it can develop into an unhealthy obsession. This is especially true for family caregivers who are under a lot of stress and constantly second-guess the decisions they are making on behalf of their loved one’s health, wellbeing, and interests. Re-evaluating decisions is important, but when is it enough?
The key is to recognize when you are slipping into unproductive, obsessive, or maladaptive thought patterns. For instance, are you actually trying to solve a problem? Or are you making yourself feel anxious and staying awake at night because you are uncertain about a series of decisions you made? If it is the latter, then you have to readjust your mindset.
We want to share some ways you can re-adjust your mindset to focus your attention on more important things.
- Practice Mindfulness: According to UC-Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, the definition of mindfulness is: “[M]aintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment” This practice sounds a lot easier than it is. When you are regretful or anxious, focusing on the present is very hard. But the point of mindfulness is recognizing your immediate situation at this particular moment. Instead of living in your thoughts, recognize that you are anxious and having obsessive thoughts. This removes you at least one step away from what you are worrying about. Another helpful strategy is to practice deep breathing for five minutes, counting for four seconds as you breathe in and four seconds as you breathe out. Counting allows you to follow your breath and reduces your chances of getting distracted.
- Learn from the Past, Don’t Dwell in It: Remember that mistakes happen, but you are not those mistakes. Know that humans are fallible, but the great part is that we can move beyond previous blunders and learn from them. Continue trying to do your best to make the right choices.
- Do Not Fear Decision Making: As a caregiver, you will be forced with many difficult choices. Do not worry about making difficult decisions, because you will have to anyway. Instead, focus on making informed decisions. Informed decision making is a productive way to think about the past for the benefit of the present and future since you rely on what you already know to make the best choices. If you are ever confronted with a situation that you do not know how to navigate, then do not be afraid to ask for help!
- Let Go: This is similar tip (1) except we mean this in a less measured way. Letting go means dropping your worries, not necessarily in an uncaring or insouciant way, but in a healthy way. Think about what kinds of cares and concerns you can afford to drop against those that deserve more attention.
If you have any more questions, feel free to call us at ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website!