“Monarch butterflies will not attempt to fly in the rain because the raindrops will damage their wings. They will rest and wait it out. It’s self-preservation. It’s okay to rest during the storms in your life. Take all the time you need. You will fly again once the storm passes.” Sharyn March, Poet, Leave Her Wild.
What an amazing and brilliant lesson from mother nature. The constant battering during the storms of caregiving can damage us unless we make time to rest. I say storms because the poet does not differentiate between a steady, gentle rain and a downpour.
Truthfully, the continuous responsibility of caregiving leaves us physically and emotionally exhausted. On top of our exhaustion, we get battered by crisis after crisis, leaving us reeling like we are in the middle of the ocean in a storm. Like the monarch butterfly, we must find ways to rest during the storms of caregiving for our own self-preservation, even when rest feels impossible.
We need to recognize that rest is not just about sleep, although that is incredibly important. We need the type of rest which simply lets us sit in the moment and feel whatever emotions we are feeling. We need rest which rejuvenates us, rest that allows us to let go, for just awhile, and all the worries and guilt that go along with caregiving.
So, amid the storms of caregiving, how do we find the time to rest? It starts by giving ourselves permission. If you need reminders, put pictures of these beautiful creatures everywhere, on your refrigerator, your bathroom mirror, in the basket with all the medicines. When you find yourself thinking, I’m so tired but I’ve got to call the insurance company, go grocery shopping, set up this week’s medicines, stop for a moment and think about the monarch butterfly. Then set a timer for 15 minutes and just sit, let yourself rest in that moment.
When your tasks, even the ones not tied to caregiving, seem overwhelming or a new one gets added to your schedule, it is the moment to think about who can help so you can rest. Then make sure you don’t replace the task someone else has taken on with another one on the list.
Because rest is so important we need to schedule when and how we can set aside time. Maybe while your elder is napping or watching a favorite show. If need be, schedule a professional, family member or friend to be with them while you rejuvenate yourself with an activity or sacred space that brings you back to you.
And maybe, just maybe, instead of running around trying to solve every problem, maybe we are supposed to rest and wait it out. The problem will either resolve itself or an answer will come to us in the quiet time of rest.
When we prioritize our self-preservation through rest during caregiving, just like the monarch butterfly, we will fly again undamaged.
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.
Deb is the author of “Your Caregiver Relationship Contract and “A Relationship Contract for Dementia Caregivers.” Your Caregiver Relationship Contract is available in both English and Spanish. It explains how to have an intentional conversation and the how unspoken expectations can cause problems during caregiving. A Relationship Contract for Dementia Caregivers explains how important it is to learn how your person wants to live their life out and how you, the caregiver are the most important person in this relationship, giving you tips and tricks for this journey.
Click here to learn more about Your Caregiver Relationship Contract or here for the Spanish version: Su Contrato de relación como cuidador de un ser querido. Click here to learn more about A Relationship Contract for Dementia Caregivers.
Deb is available as a caregiver consultant. She will answer the question: “Where do I start?” and find the resources to alleviate your stress. If you would like to invest a half hour to learn how she can help you, please contact her at: Free 30 minute consulting call