5 Strategies for Finding Peace in the Turbulence of Caregiving

Five Strategies for Finding Peace in the Turbulence of Caregiving

The human brain takes a long time to heal after trauma, and so it follows that caring for a loved one with brain injury can feel like an eternity. On top of that, outcomes from traumatic brain injury are largely unpredictable. Odd symptoms come and go, personalities, roles, and relationships change, and stress can mount with each passing day. How can a caregiver tap into a sense of peace along the way? Here are a few strategies that worked for me, when I had the sense and presence of mind to use them!

1. Accept not knowing.

Accept what you know now for what it is, and realize that you cannot change what already happened. You cannot accurately predict what may happen. But you can draw strength and breathe life into today by accepting it as it is without judgment.

2. Create your own sacred space.

A special chair, a sun porch, or a window seat can be the place you visit when you need to catch your breath. Keep a few favorite items near that space: a sacred statue, your own personal amulets, a framed quote or prayer that soothes you, or even worry beads or a stress ball to grip when you feel combustible. Sometimes, you may need to leave a volatile situation — just walk away (try not to stomp) and visit your safe space. Returning there again and again can direct your thoughts — spiritually — and guide you when you feel a deep sense of anger, anxiety, or grief.

3. Carve out small bits of time to revive.

Make it a daily practice to use whatever small amounts of time you can find during the day to dedicate to yourself. When Hugh was exhausted after his rehab visits, he usually came home, ate, and fell asleep for a while. I would go out on the back deck and sit in the sun, read, or just take in the spring air and breathe. Using these small windows of time to listen to music, read poetry, stretch, or listen to a guided imagery tape for relaxation will give you the energy you need to continue on.

4. Discover your mantra.

The words we tell ourselves have incredible power over our moods and behavior. Find the words that calm you and repeat them to yourself throughout the day when you feel anger, fear, or frustration spinning out of control. I often said the serenity prayer in my mind. It seems to cover all the bases for TBI caregiving!

Song lyrics work well too … something short and sweet you can say over and over to yourself instead of the litany of defeat that replays in your mind. Here are two short lyric mantras that might work well: “Let it be” (the Beatles) and “All will be well” (the Gabe Dixon Band).

And don’t forget Norman Vincent Peale’s sage advice: “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”

5. Understand that your daily routine of providing care is a huge gift.

Recognize that caring for another person you love may be the highest calling you have here on earth. You do matter. The simple things you do, the care you provide, and small gifts you offer — a listening ear, a connecting smile, a gentle touch — will promote healing, give comfort, and enrich the life of the ones you love.

Remember Mahatma Gandhi's words: "There is no way to peace. Peace is the way."

Comments (7)

Beautiful article and great advice! Thank you, Rosemary!
I am going to print this out and put it in my sacred space! I have two actually, a leather chair in my computer room and, in the summer, my screened in porch. These strategies are so simple and helpful. I love them!
A gratitude prayer is my mantra. It keeps me grounded and helps me remember that my life is good, very good.
its been 11 years for my mr glen thank you i all ready do this go out side with my dogs he does wonderful its the phases that make me crazy my saying is with god everything is possible god brought him this far he will take us all the way amen
Thank you for such good advice just when I need it the most.
I really needed to read this today..my sincere appreciation for your encouraging advise..
I am laughing at myself 7 years later. I thought I was suppose to work earn a living and go about my everyday life. That was my plan, I realize now how silly I was. There was a different plan, and that plan was to take care of my daughter going through a TBI. I cannot replace those moments of despair, joy, thankfulness, accepting, making up things so we could laugh. Simply caring & being there cannot be replaced. I know now this is what I am to do. Thank you God for pointing me in your direction not mine. My quiet time helped me find this peace.