After my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, I cried for a solid month. I’d wake up every hour during the night crying and worrying about the future. Although I never had a full-blown panic attack, I was in a continual state of panic, thinking “What happens when Morris is unable to recognize us? What happens when he can no longer drive? Will I have to put him in a nursing home? Will I have enough money?”
The questions would grip my mind and squeeze tears onto my pillow until I fell into an exhausted sleep. The cycle would repeat all night long. The same fearful thoughts intruded my day, only to be shoved into the background when I managed to write or tend to household chores. I discovered Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, which I credit with saving my sanity. It helped me learn how to stay focused on the present—the here and now. Learning how to stay present enhances how you relate to the person you are caring for, allowing you to create community with that person. The simple act of breathing with someone—of matching your breath to theirs—enables you to create a spiritual connection, or community, with that person.
When your mind starts jumping from fear, stop and breathe. Then think for a moment, “What am I grateful for? How do I feel right now, this second?” Chances are you will calm down and focus on the here and now, and your fear of the future will dissipate, even if just for a little while.
Make time to rejuvenate in a hot bath. Fill it with epsom salt, lavendar oil. Light a candle and turn on some soothing music. Soak away your troubles. . .even if it’s just for a little while.