What fills your bucket?
Written by: Katherine Varley, MOTR/L
In pediatric occupational therapy sessions, we often ask our children and families with sensory processing challenges “what fills your bucket?”. Whether it be going playing outside on the playground, listening to music, or cuddling with a weighted blanket; regular participation in these activities can mean the difference between meltdowns and successful participation across contexts. Similar concepts can also be applied to caregivers of our patients. Caregiving for small children with a variety of abilities can be stressful on a day to day basis, never mind in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Isolation, fear, and increasing anxiety can make an already challenging job seem crippling. Now more than ever it is important for caregivers to nurture their mental health needs to avoid burn out, exhaustion, and even anger and resentment. I invite you and caregivers alike to stop and think, “what fills MY bucket?”. From an occupational therapy perspective, here is a list of feasible strategies to help manage stress during this chaotic time and refill your caregiving bucket.
1. Ask for Help: Caregivers need to care for themselves to provide effective care to others. Ask your doctors, therapists, and friends for community resources for a variety of supports-monetary, support groups, respite, etc.
2. Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule: To avoid feelings of grogginess or extreme fatigue proper sleep hygiene is of utmost importance. From creating a good sleep environment, to appropriate wake/sleep times, and monitoring frequency/duration of naps.
3. Participate in a Consistent Routine: Allotting certain times of the day for different activities will help to dismiss feelings of being unproductive.
4. Try Something New: a craft, hiking/walking trail, a new movie or television show.
5. Limit “What if” Thinking: “what ifs” tend to lead down an uncertain anxiety provoking path of thinking. Focusing on the “here and now” to navigate your day one small task at a time can lead to more achievable solutions.
6. Mini Breaks: Break down the day into smaller chunks with tangible rewards: pour yourself a glass of water, listen to a 5-minute guided mediation, call a friend, stretch, or journal.
For more information, please contact one of our Pediatric Outpatient sites.