When we think of freedom, especially in July, we think about the 4th of July, fireworks, America, the Bald Eagle, the flag, democracy, and the men and women who have fought for our independence.
Freedom is having the power to exercise choice and make decisions without constraint from within or without. Autonomy and self-determination are two words that come to mind when I think of freedom.
But what happens when caregiving and care receiving are a part of our everyday lives?
The Power of Freedom
While freedom is about having the power to make choices and decisions, sometimes providing care can feel like our path is somewhat compromised. And as we age or become ill, from the perspective of the care recipient, our increasing dependence on others seem to come at the expense of our own autonomy. Others then must willingly accept caring for us.
It sure seems as if independence comes at a cost when caregiving or care receiving is involved; a cost of service, mercy, compassion for the suffering of others, compassion for self, and acceptance.
That sounds like a cost that can be depleting, but how can we provide continuous care and empathy without burning out, without guilt, without losing who we are as a person? And how can we rely on others for our care and accept without feeling like we are a burden?
Letting Go of Control
One way is letting go of control and feeling okay or even good about the process of letting go of what we cannot control. Letting go of the things we have no control over can actually free us from stress and put us on a path to less burnout.
Caregiving tasks may seem endless and can cause a constant state of stress, but applying the principles of mindfulness can help tremendously. Focusing on mindful meditation, mindful breathing, and mindful walking can be beneficial.
Self-Care and Self-Compassion
While it is hard to give ourselves permission to focus on self-care and other activities that have a self-care and self-compassion effect, it is imperative for good physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
Retreating to nature can be freeing and offer restoration and balance. One of the ways Hope Grows suggests is walking barefoot in the grass, sitting under a shaded tree, or focusing on something growing or moving about the earth.
Last but definitely not least, accepting where one is along their journey is extremely important. If the path along the journey is not acceptable, how can you get to a place of being free? The endless hours, time, and energy that you spend on “not accepting” is a choice that you make.
You can choose to say, “such is life” and let it be. Or you can “make a change” if that change is possible. The Serenity Prayer is a great resource. Next month stick with us as we talk about Acceptance