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One of the things which helped me a great deal during the caregiving journey was to use my worry tree. Realizing that I needed a place and time to escape from worry, lest it weigh me down to the point of paralysis, I started a simple habit of "hanging" my worries on a tree outside my front door, each time I entered my home. It was completely optional as to whether or not I picked them up again on the way out. This accomplished several things: it kept my home as a pristine sanctuary where I could relax worry-free, it allowed me a respite and distance from my problems, even just symbolically, that paradoxically let me come up with solutions when my mind was not worrying the problem like a dog its bone. (I will admit that sometimes my subconcious kept working on the problem, even though I had given my conscious mind permission to stop.) The stepping back and releasing of the concern often made creative space in my brain or emotions to find a good solution. The other noticeable effect was that my problems didn't seem as big or as dire as they had when I hung them on the tree the day/night before. They sort of magically were put into perspective and so I often chose not to "pick them up" again. This is a very simple trick for shifting your perspective, but it is amazingly powerful, nonetheless. Try it.
Oh, the other consequence of doing this was that the tree started looking very pathetic. You may want to choose a plant or tree you don't like very much on which to dump your cares. Just goes to show that the mind is a very powerful force!
Karen is a compassionate, enthusiastic student of life, who cared for her mother for 17 years. She brings her insights, compassion, experience and desire to share knowledge and healing to this ongoing conversation with others on the caregiving path. If you are caring for a parent, spouse, friend or other loved one this site offers sanity-saving tips, open-hearted self-care ideas, and an open forum for discussion, connection and sharing resources for the journey.
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