Thank you! One of my favorite sayings is, "sometimes you have to go slow to go fast." Slowing it down and being more present and intentional in our moments is definitely an ongoing practice.
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Symptoms of stress can vary from person to person. Every person’s body sends out a different set of red flags. Some common examples of stress body signals are: increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, breathing changes (fast or shallow breathing), stomach and digestive problems, dizziness, sweating, lightheadedness, tremors, fatigue, pain (ex. headaches), tension in various muscles in your body etc.
The body scan is a mindfulness exercise that can help you reduce stress in your body by bringing awareness and identifying parts of the body that hold both physical and emotional stress tension. It increases kind attention and awareness, and acceptance of things as they are. It also helps us practice being in the “being” mode instead of the “doing” mode. Cultivating internal peace not only helps us feel better in our mind and body, but this calmness can help guide our interactions with daily stressors. We can’t always fix a stressor, but we can change our response to it.
Consider trying the body scan meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn to practice mindful awareness of thoughts and body sensations. Notice how this awareness can affect your body, as well as your moment by moment experiences in your daily living.
“Doing mode” is goal-oriented, narrowly focused, “get it done” way of thinking and behaving. It also tries to close the discrepancy between how things are and how we would like them to be. Doing mode involves thinking about the past, present, and future. Doing mode works well for strategizing how to solve problems and achieve goals that we can do, but it doesn’t work well for things that we can’t do or we can’t fix.
“Being mode” is accepting and allowing what is happening without any immediate pressure to change it. There is no goal or desired state to achieve, and there is no problem to solve. Being mode focuses on the present moment and dropping into it and experiencing it as it is, rather than viewing it through past experiences or future predictions. Awareness is focused on the experience of the moment so it can be processed in all of its fullness, rather than comparing moments.
Acceptance of something is allowing it to be as it is, not because you like it or want it that way, but because it is that way …for right now anyway. Letting go of our desire to want things to be different than they are, and making space to allow things to be exactly as they are, can help us struggle less with the moment. Instead of constantly trying to fix or change the moment, we learn to live and even thrive within it.
What are the ways you handle stress and take care of yourself?
For those living with MCI, it’s a common issue to repeat questions or stories due to your short term memory problem. At times you may be aware that you are repeating yourself, but since you can’t recall the answer, you ask the question again. Other times you may not be aware that you’ve asked the question before, but you sense the frustration in your loved one based on his/her response: “I already told you that!”
Your loved one may not always understand MCI, or may lack patience with your memory loss. Some people get frustrated when they are asked the same question again because they may assume that the person they responded to was not listening or paying attention to their response. This is not the necessarily the case with MCI.
Since memory problems are mild in MCI, and you may still be very independent, your partner may on occasion forget that you have a short term memory problem. However, it’s not a “selective hearing” problem, or you’re “trying to be difficult” problem, it’s a memory problem. If you believe they get frustrated or angry with you when they remind you that you’ve already asked the question, you may have hurt feelings. Or, you may feel embarrassed, sad, frustrated, anxious, depressed, etc. Your memory may be impaired, but your feelings and emotions are not.
Care partners may need some guidance in adjusting their communication with you. Some care partners may suggest you “try harder” to remember, or will quiz you, or give you vague hints in hopes that you’ll remember. Be patient with them because these old techniques of exercising your memory may have worked in the past, but they no longer do. Talk to your partner about your needs and what they can specifically do to better communicate with you. We offer these tips:
Learning new behaviors can take time to master. So if your partner messes up, please forgive them, because they too are learning. If you and your partner are struggling to communicate, you may want to consider getting help through an MCI support group or a partner support group. You can contact your local Alzheimer’s Association for MCI support 1(800)272-3900.
Mismanaging money is a common problem in people who have mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Memory impairment can unfortunately impact our accuracy with our finances. Have you noticed money errors now and then? Here are some safeguards people diagnosed with MCI can put in place to help themselves stay protected and financially safe, while also aiming to maintain independence as much as possible. If you’ve been diagnosed with MCI, we encourage to you consider putting some of these plans in place, even if you haven’t had any problems managing finances.
1). Limit use of credit cards and ATM cards and consider a prepaid credit card or having a limited amount of cash on hand instead. Do you really need to carry all of your credit cards in your purse or wallet? If you’ve had any difficulty misplacing items, or forgetting your wallet/purse, that old habit may actually make it easier to loose them. Further, discuss with your care partner what is a safe amount of money to carry with you.
2). Involve a trusted loved one or finance professional in supervision of payment of bills and other expenses. Consider adding that individual onto your accounts so that they can help you when needed (bank accounts, utilities, mortgage, other financial accounts). This person can help keep an eye out for mistakes and let you know if frequent errors occur. If you have already noticed yourself making financial mistakes this may be your signal that it is time to get assistance and/or turn over some financial management to someone else.
3). Be on the lookout for mail ,email, and phone financial scams. If you are contacted by a source that you are not familiar with, and do not routinely do business with, please discuss it with a trusted family member or friend. Do not send any money or give any personal information to unknown sources, even if it looks or sounds official. There are several Medicare, IRS, fake charities, law enforcement, and sweepstakes etc. scams, so protect yourself against fraud and identity theft by double checking the source with someone you trust. The IRS puts out a “dirty dozen” list of scams for taxpayers to be aware of on their website: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/dirty-dozen
4). Consider completing a durable financial power of attorney document. This document allows you to give financial decision making power to someone you trust in the event you are not able to make financial decisions. Lawyers who specializes in elder law and financial and estate planning can also help you complete this document.
5). Think about creating a retirement budget, or revising your existing one if you already have one, with your care partner and/or a financial advisor that includes your health care costs, basic living expenses, recreational expenses, and unforeseen expenses. This can help relieve any future financial worries and maintain good spending habits.
Loving-kindness meditation focuses on developing feelings of kindness and compassion towards ourselves and others. It is a “heart” meditation. Research shows that loving kindness meditation can benefit our personal well-being by increasing positive emotions and decreasing negative emotions. Meditation can also help trigger the relax response in our body. Feeling calmer in our mind and body can help us physically, cognitively, and emotionally feel better.
Loving-kindness is an unconditional type of love that does not depend on whether a person deserves it or not. It’s not restricted to certain beings, but rather it includes all beings. Loving-kindness is sent with no “strings attached,” no expectation of something in return. The meditation starts by sending ourselves love, kindness, and compassion, because it can be difficult to send unconditional love and acceptance to others if we do not extend it to ourselves first. The meditation then sends this loving-kindness to other people in our lives as well as the world.
Try this meditation from Mayo’s Dan Abraham’s Healthy Living Center:
When you complete the meditation just notice how you emotionally feel afterwards as you check in with yourself and your heart space. We’d love to hear you share your results.