Valentine’s Day is coming up, so what better time to talk about love through caregiving?
Caregiving is all about love, and yet when caregivers are tired and stressed, love can be the last thing that shines through. The person who needs our care might see frustration or urgency and feel like a burden instead of someone you deeply care about.
Have you ever had someone do something for you purely out of obligation, not because they wanted to? How did that make you feel? You probably felt unworthy and insignificant … not good feelings.
Yet as caregivers, it’s easy to fall into this kind of behavior because there’s always too much to do, too much to think about, and never enough time. When I feel my jaw clench, my shoulders and neck ache, and when I hear myself let out a long exasperated sigh, I know it’s time to stop for a moment and think about what really matters. It’s time to look into the faces of the ones I love and see how my reactions are affecting them.
Humans are funny creatures. We mimic each other. It follows that if a caregiver is tense, hurried, and frazzled, the person receiving care will feel these emotions. Here is some useful information for caregivers who want to improve the emotional environment in their home while caregiving:
“Mirroring body language is a non-verbal way to say ‘… I feel the same.’ The research shows that people who experience the same emotions are likely to experience mutual trust, connection and understanding. They will also begin to match facial expressions and body language. In other words, they will subconsciously mirror each other.”
By remaining conscious of the way you interact with your loved one, you can create a contagiously upbeat environment. If you are gruff and impatient, you will most likely receive gruffness in return. If you smile and show concern, you will likely receive gratitude. Do you remember a time when you laughed so hard that everyone else in the room began laughing and never even knew what was so funny? Laughter is contagious.
Maya Angelou has a beautiful saying:
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This Valentine’s Day, it might be interesting to consciously rewind the fond memories you have of the loved one in your care to fortify yourself for a day of caregiving with heart. Show and tell the person in your care how much they mean with the full force of your being: your tone of voice, your words, your body language, and your actions. Then see what happens.
Happy Valentine’s Day!