This was the toughest strategy for me to write, and I had to figure out why. So after much Contemplation (Contemplation/Journaling Strategy!), it has finally occurred to me. I used to love to exercise but of late it has taken a back seat; a way, way back seat. I have time set aside during the week to exercise, but I tend to choose something else to do with that time; fortunately one or another of the 9 Strategies.
I am certainly familiar with the benefits of regular exercise. Not only would I look and feel better, but I could think more clearly, be more effective in my pursuits and in general have a remarkably more positive outlook on life.
And still…. there was a long dry spell, where I watched myself lose all of the benefits gained; I felt terrible as a result, and my caregiving experience descended into the hellish abyss of chronic fatigue and moments of depression. All because I was leaving out one of the most important ingredients of a healthy life!
Life does not favor the static. In time, there was a moment, which I like to call a moment of epiphany, when the sum total of my experience was overwhelmed by the desire to transcend my current circumstance and I could no longer accept the behaviors and habits that have not been serving me. In such a moment, it feels that a switch has flipped inside me and my mind immediately and thankfully embraces a new possibility. I am aware of the efforts involved, but the rewards now far outweigh the complacency.
As caregivers we experience burdensome drains on our physical and emotional being on a daily basis. By incorporating exercise into our weekly lives we can experience a genuine sense of lightness of mind and ease of body! Not only does it feel great to be back on track to a healthy life style, it also feels great to be back in charge of my future! The implication is not that caregiving has gotten easier, or the tragic decline of my beautiful wife is something that I now have become comfortable with, because that is not the case.
The difference is that now that I am exercising again, there is more ease in my ability to deal with the worst of it! Now there is a real experience that in the presence of daily challenges there is a strength and elasticity that make everything feel more….do-able.
Ideally I like to hike at least four or five times a week.
I can supplement hiking with trips to the gym and stretching on a regular basis for a few minutes a day, to maintain joint and soft tissue health. Stretching can be done anywhere, any time (yes, even while watching TV).
Perhaps my favorite part of hiking is that, even with Linda in her current state (she is in late stage), there is nothing preventing her from taking easy hikes with me. She loves to get out; it allows us to be together; and there is no question that it enhances her mood and her sleep. Outside of the confines of the home, in nature, there is something about caregiving that actually feels easier.
I have learned through Linda’s illness that life can throw curveballs that you never see coming. I have come to accept that there is so much out of my control.