Month: April 2022

Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time and Recharge Your Tired Brain

Promises of a better life, an easier life, if you will only use the XYZ method of time management. You are convinced that if you knew and could master the trick of managing your time to be more and more productive, your life will be better. April 27, 20222 How many phrases pull you in to the “That would make my life better and easier?” Probably, quite a few. Why? Because, we are dealing with crap that is standing in our way of our lives being better and easier. We see the ads, we see the promises, and we even search for solutions. Of course, we are leery, we have either bought or done things before that did not work for us. Still, we search. Why? Because, we want better. Something is out there to help us; it just has to be.

We have thought about time management wrong

What if we have thought about time all wrong? Maybe, we have only been managing deadlines, this whole time? Use a planner, they say. Planners and date books are great for solid meeting times, appointments or deadlines. There are list makers and there are fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kinds of people. I am a list-maker, but I have learned to leave space for spontaneous goings-on. Changes, reschedules, opportunities, missed out times, it is all good. Time marches on no matter what we do or don’t do. Our energy on the other hand, is finite. It does run out. We do need to rest and recharge.

Doing a mental versus physical activity and the energy levels each takes

When doing a physical activity that does not require a lot of focused attention to detail, we get tired. We rest, get cleaned up and we are ready to go again. When doing mental activities that take a lot of focused attention to detail, we have about three hours a day before that energy is zapped. Sorry, but a short rest and shower will not fix this energy depletion. The brain must rest, from processing information. Daydreaming is a nice way to rest the brain. Letting your thoughts wander is great too.

What can you do to rest and recharge your brain?

    1. Go for a walk
    1. Take a nap between 10 minutes up to an hour
    1. Take a shower, leisurely
    1. Play sports
    1. Stretch
    1. Go outside
    1. Journal
    1. Color or Draw
    1. Watch animals play
    1. Listen to music
Find what works for you. If you know that you will be having to process a lot of information, learn when you perform at your best. You may already know that you can only be detail oriented for an hour and a half at a time. Great, you have two of those blocks per day.

How to stay focused during your workday

Depending on how detail oriented I need to be or how much research that I need to do, I know that I have about three hours a day for that intensity. After that, I will need to do other tasks that do not take as much effort and energy. My best times are usually from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm and from 2 pm – 4:00 pm. If I have reading and research to do, I protect that time frame so that I will be at my best to work on my clients needs.  I check email once in the morning and once in the late afternoon. I scan the news in the morning and late afternoon. I check Twitter and facebook mid-day and late afternoon. I have this routine and I don’t waste any brain energy trying to figure out what I am going to do or not do next. Routines and habits help you conserve brain energy.

Chasing rabbits and wasting time

We can all go down rabbit holes at any time. We learn to catch ourselves doing that, course correct and go forward. Mindless scrolling, is a rabbit hole. If you are having trouble with that, set a timer for 10 minutes. Do something else. Read. Journal. Chores. Plan for the next day. Walk. Daydream. Learning to calm yourself benefits your brain too. When you focus on the problem or issue, you get stuck because you cannot think about it in any other way. By taking a break, getting away, playing or being fully present in the moment, you can rest and let your brain work in the background. Who knows, it may come up with a brilliant new way to look at the situation or find even better options. New perspectives. New ways to think about brain energy. New ways to plan your day. Give them a try for two weeks and see how you are doing. Make adjustments, you may be surprised at how much better you feel and how much easier your tasks become. You get to do your most intense work when it is best for you, your brain and your body. Pat

Conflicting thoughts and how to decide what is best for you.

Conflicts inside our mind We all have them, the mixed feeling or conflicting thoughts. What does it do to us? How do they make us feel? They stress us out. They make us tired both emotionally and physically. We stay paralyzed because we don’t want to make a wrong decision. It hurts us worse to make a wrong decision than it does to make a potentially right decision. April 20, 2022

Internal conflicting thoughts is the experience of having opposing psychological beliefs, desires, impulses or feelings.

A few examples:
    1. You feel frustrated and angry at the health care system (doctors, hospitals, insurance companies) but, yet, you need them.
    1. You are disappointed in the lack of communication but you are unsure how to fix it.
    1. You are not sure that your loved one has the financial resources that they will need to have the best care possible for them, yet, you are not sure how much, if any, you can contribute.
    1. To be an advocate, you need good, science-based information that works for you and your needs.
    1. The frustration of unmet clinical concerns (diagnoses, treatment plans, home needs).
    1. Our inner child emerges and is ready for battle.
    1. Our compassion and losing the ability to be compassionate.
    1. Our Ego gets bruised and then we act out instead of seeking to find the best solution.
    1. Conflict with yourself – taking care of yourself along with taking care of your loved one.
    1. Unresolved family issues rear their ugly head.
    1. And many more…
What is causing this inner agitation? Ruminating thoughts? Troubling thoughts? Feeling like the thoughts are in control? You experience this out of control feeling and you just keep spinning your wheels. There is an element of fear. In fact, the “fear” of something is always at hand.

Relieve the stress and the conflicting emotions will disapper

When your mind is relieved of the stress, those feelings of conflict and turmoil will disappear. Our minds want to be in a state of calm. We like it when things are copasetic. So, how do we get there? Your thoughts are not always true. Identify what thoughts are causing the distress. Do you have competing or conflicting thoughts? Get your paper and pen out. Write the competing thoughts down. Under them, write down the good points about each of them. We are looking for win/win ideas. Now you have to change hats to be the mediator. As a mediator you are looking for the best options for RIGHT NOW. There will be give and take. Get rid of the “either – or” mindset, look for a “both – and” mindset.

Your Want vs Reality

Have you figured out that the biggest problem is between your WANT and REALITY? Yes, it sucks, but more times than not that is what the conflict is about. Does that mean we give up? Of course not. Making things the best they can be under the parameters that we have is our goal. Rarely, do we have a perfect reality anyway so we know that we can course correct and move forward. We are made for challenges. Take the limits off of your thinking. Let’s try and see. You are the one in control of your thoughts and your feelings. No one else. That is powerful. That is an “in control of me” empowering feeling. You have to be the one to learn how to handle your strong emotions and feelings. Drill down deep, what are they trying to tell you? Yes, they do have a message. They are ALWAYS trying to keep you safe. They will always raise a ruckus. It is your job to listen, step back and figure out what is real and what is not real. Are you safe, right now? Is this an old trigger? Is this a pattern? I know we just chased a squirrel here. Back on task. What does the evidence say to you? What does the logic say to you?


Reasoning is a powerful tool for the mind. To be able to reason well, we need correct and true information. Three trusted sources is sufficient for you to make a well-reasoned decision. A trusted source is NOT ‘they said and I heard.” Remember, we buy with emotion and justify with logic. Sometimes, we keep looking for sources to help us justify the way that we want. We keep searching until we find what we WANT it to be. Be careful about how you are searching for information. Do you want the facts or do you want the biased information that will support what you want? When you know the facts and your options, you will actually feel much better about your decision. You will know that you have done everything possible to get the best information available at the time to help you make a decision. It doesn’t mean that it will be easy. It doesn’t mean that you won’t wonder? It doesn’t mean that you won’t make a mistake. We are human, we will probably always wonder. But those are just thoughts. They are not reality. The reality is that you did the best you could with the best information that you had at the time. Very few decisions are final. Oops, that did not work as well for us, so, you make adjustments and move forward. Progress over perfection.

Write these things down and answer them:

I am concerned about ____________________________________________________ I am afraid that _____________________________________________is going to happen.

Write down all the possible outcomes that you are thinking about.

Make 3 columns – Thoughts that reinforce Negative outcomes, Thoughts that make the situation stay the same, Thoughts that are Growth/Goal oriented realistic outcomes

Try to focus on the thoughts that are growth/goal oriented realistic outcomes. These thoughts are the motivators to help you take action.

Consider what you really want. What are your life values?

We want balance between our head and our hearts. When it is out of balance we have inner conflict. You are having trouble or confusion between accepting and aligning your belief with what is being presented to you. Accept the duality. Sometimes, you need to be still and breathe, just deep breathe. Allow your thoughts to calm down so you can think more rationally. Think about your life values and the principles that you live your life with. Decisions are hard. If you have no good decision, then which decisio Pat

Family Caregivers: When to take a rest day

How caregiving is like working out, rest days are important. April 13, 2022 Why is it okay to take a rest day or two from working out but, it is not okay to take a rest day from caregiving responsibilities or helping your loved one? Think about that. We have the research and the information about listening to our bodies. That rest days are just as important as workout days. That if you cannot mentally concentrate on a lifting day, you are better off skipping that workout. If you push through your chances of injury are greatly increased. Then what? You got it… you will have to take four to six weeks off to heal. Helping out a loved one is the same kind of thing. Sometimes it is mentally exhausting and sometimes it is physically exhausting. You know that you need a break, but will you take a break? Will you push through? For how long? At what cost to you and your own health?

When you are a caregiver for more than 3 months

These are things that all of us need to think about. The problem is that we don’t think about these things. We just jump in and do. That is great, if it is for a short time. The problems arise after we have been helping for a longer period of time. Three to six months is what I consider a longer period of time. At about 18 to 24 months burnout has begun, if you have not gotten help or taken time outs. I get it. It is hard when you are in the big middle of things to think about what would be best for all involved. You get in to survival mode and you just do. Some of us don’t want to think about what would be best for us and for out loved one. Thinking is hard and it takes a lot of energy when you are learning new things or doing new things. Remember, you only have about three hours of focused energy per day to use. When are your good hours? When are you able to concentrate and work on detailed projects the best? The rest of the day, you can do the things that do not take as much mental energy or focus.

Habits improve our health and well-being

Developing habits are good for us. I am talking about positive habits. They decrease the expenditure of mental energy. Basically, when we have habits, we do them and we do not have to waste any mental energy or focus to think about the “who, what, when, where, why” things. We just do. We have already learned. Some folks call it discipline and others call it a routine. The demands of caregiving are exhausting physically and mentally.

The dreaded where to go when eating out question…

As with most of us, the most aggravating thing is trying to figure out where to go for dinner. How much time and energy is wasted on this simple act? We ask each other, “Where would you like to go?” The reply is usually, “I don’t care, where do you want to go?” Yes, you know what is coming next. “How about the Roadhouse, you ask?” Wait for it …. The reply is … “I don’t want to go there.” Here comes the hard part … do you say this or just think it? “Obviously, you do care. So, where do you want to go?” The back and forth continues, until finally a place is chosen. How do you feel after this discussion? Tired? A little miffed? Wondering why it is a chore to pick a place to eat? Sometimes, you can give them three options and they still do not like any of them. But, they don’t have any options to give you. Why is that? Sorry about that, I digressed. How does the rest of your evening go? If both of you can let it go, the evening will probably be okay. If one or both of you do not let it go, then chances are you will not be having pleasant conversation the rest of the evening. I wonder how much better and easier it would be if one of us said, from the beginning, “I would like to go to the Roadhouse, do you want to go?” The other person can say yes or offer another suggestion. Then the suggestion could be taken or not and they can go or stay at home. Shoot, one person gets to pick this time and next time the other person gets to pick. We are trying to get a consensus, but sometimes that is not possible. The same thing happens when you are a helper or care giver. You may or may not get a consensus. A “good enough” decision has to be made. NOT perfect. Progress, not perfection is what we are after. If you do not have habits or routine, try this for two weeks and see how you do and how you feel. Plan your breakfast every day. It does not matter if you eat at home or go and pick something up. Figure out what it will be the night before. Pick out your clothes and shoes the night before. Stick to this routine for two weeks. Hopefully, you will find that having a routine frees your mental energy for other things. What day or days do you clean the house? Do laundry? Change the sheets? Workout? Run or walk? Schedule them like an appointment, until they become a habit. When they become a habit, the less focused mental energy you will use and will have that energy to do other things. Learning to manage your energy is much more efficient than managing time. Which of these fits you today?



14 Signs you need a rest day from being a helper or care giver

    1. Feeling “trapped” or hopeless
    1. Losing patience or compassion for your loved one
    1. Overreacting to small accidents
    1. Resenting or neglecting your loved one
    1. Withdrawing from your personal hobbies and friendships
    1. Oversleeping or not sleeping enough
    1. Overeating, not eating enough, or eating a lot of high-sugar foods
    1. Having health problems
    1. Abusing drugs or alcohol
    1. Having thoughts of suicide
    1. Making mistakes
    1. You are irritable
    1. Signs and symptoms of depression
    1. You feel exhausted most of the time
I can’t say it any better than Daily Caring has said it in their article.


1. Accept that you’ll feel guilty Guilt is a normal part of caregiving simply because you care – it’s never going to disappear. Don’t let this stop you from getting the caregiving help you need. Taking regular breaks is the best way to maintain your overall health and your ability to provide care. Besides, how good would you feel if you never took any breaks and your health declined to the point where you could no longer care for your older adult? It doesn’t do them any good if you’re not physically or mentally well enough to be their caregiver. 2. Don’t ask your older adult for permission This isn’t a decision that your older adult gets to make. Many older adults refuse outside help because they’re uncomfortable with the idea. And someone with dementia doesn’t have the cognitive ability to make a rational decision. When seniors refuse, they’re not thinking of your needs and are often not considering their own true needs either. That’s why you need to make the decision, regardless of how they feel about it. All that matters is that they’re safe and well cared for when you’re not there. 3. Start before you really need it (if possible) It may take some time to find the right person to help and for them to learn the caregiving routines. That’s why it’s helpful to find help before you really need it. When you’re putting together a team of family, friends, and volunteers, it can be less stressful if you have some time to get the team in place and work out the details. To make the transition easier, you could have someone come and shadow you until they learn the ropes and can be left alone with your older adult. Or, you could have someone come for a short time in the beginning and gradually increase their time as everyone adjusts to the new situation. 4. Combine paid services with help from friends, family, and volunteers Hiring caregiving help can be expensive. But even if the cost is high, maintaining or improving your health is worth it. Being open to different sources of help also lowers the cost of taking regular breaks. Ask family or friends for help and seek out local volunteer programs that offer companionship services. Then supplement those hours with paid help as needed. 5. Check in to know that your older adult is well-cared-for You might be afraid or nervous to leave your older adult with a stranger or a family member with limited experience. To give you greater peace of mind, use simple, discreet ways to keep an eye on them and make sure they’re treating your older adult well. You could sometimes come back early as a surprise check-in to see what’s been happening. Or while you’re out, call occasionally to hear how things are going. Another good move is to ask the caregiver to take notes so you’ll know what happened while you were out. 6. Be creative when introducing the hired caregiver Nobody wants to be told that they’re getting a babysitter. If your older adult is very resistant to outside help, be sensitive and creative when introducing them to the household. A careful approach is especially important to prevent seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia from reacting with fear or anxiety. For example, you could introduce the person as your helper around the house and have them help you with meal prep, light housekeeping, and simple care tasks. After a few of these visits, it will seem normal that they’re around and it will be easier for you to leave to “run errands.” You could also position it as doing that person a favor. Perhaps you could say that this person is in need of extra income, so you’re helping them out with a few hours of work here and there. If family or friends are helping, you could say that they wanted to visit and spend some time catching up. When they become regular visitors, you can start popping out to “run errands.” By DailyCaring Editorial Team Pat

How to make stress work for you?

April 6, 2022

How to make everyday stress work for you

Let’s start with a definition of stress.

Stress: a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.

Now, notice that it does not say anything about negative or positive stress. Have you ever even wondered about that? Some may think that all stress is negative. Not true. Positive stress happens, too. Positive stress (Eustress) or good stress is the type of stress response that we feel when we are excited.

Stressors are thoughts or challenges. They can be positive or negative. Stress and how it affects you depends on your mindset.

What Is Stress Mindset?

Again, it’s how you view stress, what it means to you.

    • Is it a threat – something that will negatively affect your emotional state, your performance (physical and mental), even your health?

    • Or is it a challenge that lifts you to a higher level of energy and performance? (i.e. the stress response is helping you cope.)

Why Stress Mindset Matters

A negative stress mindset views stress as harmful, a threat – and therefore something to be avoided, averted, maybe even suppressed. Negative consequences are:

    • You’ll avoid challenges and opportunities for growth and development (as with a fixed mindset).

    • Trying to avoid stress, and in particular trying to suppress the body’s stress response, actually amplifies it and makes the feeling of stress and anxiety worse, and probably longer lasting.

    • You can get locked into a state of chronic stress response, which is actually harmful (unlike short bursts of stress) – your stress mindset becomes self-fulfilling.

A positive stress mindset means stress is a challenge to be embraced, moving you to perform better. The stress response is your body’s mobilizing energy to help you meet the challenge. It feels like excitement, not anxiety. In other words, although there is still a physical stress response, it doesn’t feel like stress at all.

I stole, I mean, borrowed this from Stress Resilient Mind

Distress Stressors:

    • Financial crises

    • Solo caregiving

    • Death of a loved one

    • Relationship problems

    • Illness or Injury

    • Abuse

    • Feeling neglected

    • Worrying about someone else

    • Work problems

    • Deadlines

What happens to the body during stress?

The body’s autonomic nervous system controls your heart rate, breathing, vision changes and more. Its built-in stress response, the “fight-or-flight response,” helps the body face stressful situations.

When a person has long-term (chronic) stress, continued activation of the stress response causes wear and tear on the body. Physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms develop.

Physical symptoms:

    • Aches (headaches, body aches, etc.)

    • Pains (lower back pain, neck pain, etc.)

    • Chest pain or heart racing

    • Trouble sleeping

    • Exhaustion

    • Dizziness

    • Muscle tension

    • Jaw clenching

    • Stomach problems

    • Weaker immune system

    • Trouble with or lack of interest in sex

Emotional or Mental symptoms:

    • Anxiety

    • Irritability

    • Sadness

    • Depression

    • Panic attacks

Stress is subjective and cannot be measured with tests. Only the person experiencing the stress gets to determine how severe it is! That being said, we can look at the physical and mental symptoms you are having and we can also assess whether you are handling the stress with healthy or unhealthy behaviors.

Negative Stress:

Examples of unhealthy behaviors:

    • Alcohol misuse – drinking too much and/or too often

    • Medication misuse – taking a medication for other than its intended purposes

    • Food misuse – overeating, excessive eating of sweets, eating disorders

    • Smoking

    • Gambling

    • Shopping

Examples of healthy behaviors:

    • Deep breathe for 3-5 minutes four to six times a day

    • Eat for nutrition

    • Hydrate with water and other non-caffeinated beverages

    • Walk or run regularly – four to five times a week for 20 minutes at a time

    • Practice relaxation techniques

    • Mindfulness meditation

    • Sleep enough

    • Make time for your hobby

    • Talk therapy

    • Re-framing the situation

    • Journaling for 10 minutes each day

    • Setting realistic goals

Find your own personal mantra:

    • I did not cause this and I cannot fix this.

    • I cannot control the outcome; all I can do is to do my best.

    • I cannot change this situation and no amount of worrying will change the situation.

    • It is okay that the situation is not okay, I am moving forward and doing my best.

    • I can control how I react now, and that is all I can or have to control.

    • It is okay that I did not get it all done today, I have accomplished a lot today.

    • Things are not too good today, but I have adapted.

    • Let it go = let it be just as it is, right now

Create your own mantra for stress management

Create your own saying or mantra. One that is empowering and meaningful to you.

Sometimes stress is telling you to pay attention, something needs to change around here. Something is out of whack. Look at it. Is there a fix? Yes. Great, do it and move forward. Is there a fix? No. Great, let it be and move forward.

I know, I know. It is not normal to let things be and move forward. We all have to understand that our problems arise when we refuse to believe that what is happening cannot be fixed and we don’t like it! It is the internal struggle that is wearing us out. How much better off would we be, if we would accept things the way that they are, right now? It does not mean that we don’t try to make things better. It does not mean that we don’t move forward. We adapt. We reassess.

Re-frame the situation

Re-frame the situation. How in the hell do you re-frame the situation? Start by noticing “stinking thinking.” Get ready to write some things. No, you cannot just think about them. That is part of the problem, you are in your head too much. Get the paper and pen or pencil.

    1. Write down your thoughts. (What is causing the anxiety?)

    1. Fact-check your thoughts. (Are they true? What is the proof?)

Truth is on a spectrum, it takes in to account your experiences, life stories and belief system. Facts are facts. They are true everywhere and for everyone.

 3.When you are really feeling stuck, ask, “Is this helpful?

4. What would you say to a close friend that is having the same thoughts are you are?

5. What is realistic, not positive? Finding a positive thought about a negative situation is not realistic. You don’t have to put a positive spin on it.

6. Screw “the bright side,” find “the meaning.” Get out of the “all-or-none” type of thinking. It doesn’t have to be an “either/or” situation, it can be a “both/and,” type of situation.

7. What is the next right action to take?

8. Try this for a week or two. Give it time or work or fail. Then reassess, make a plan and try again.

Reframing is not the best way to deal with every situation, but it sure can be a helpful tool. Use reframing to take an alternate view of the situation.

What are your skills and traits? Identify your strengths. Identify the areas that you are not so good at to find out either what you need to learn or you will learn that you need to let someone else handle the job.

If you are using all of your energy focusing on the negative, then you will have little to no energy left to find any good in the situation or to look for possible solutions. Use your energy wisely, you only have so much focused energy to use every day (about 3 hours).

Positive Stress:

Some stress can be good for you. How do you know if it is good stress?

Positive Stress Characteristics:

    • Focuses Energy

    • Motivates you

    • Within our coping abilities

    • Feels exciting

    • Improves performance

    • Short-term (you will still have physiological changes to your body)

    • Challenges for learning, growth and achievement

    • Sense of purpose

Positive Stressors:

    • New relationship

    • Wedding

    • Upcoming holidays

    • Retirement

    • Vacation

    • Pregnancy

    • Taking on a new project at work

    • Physical conditioning

    • Learning something new

    • Buying a home

    • Graduating

    • New job

    • Self-care

Positive stress is key for developing resilience. That is what we are all after. The ability to handle whatever happens both good and bad. To get back to the point that we know we are going to be okay.