Taking Care of You: Grief and Self Care

Part 4: Learning to Balance

“Life is like a box of chocolate. You never know what you are gonna get.” Forrest Gump

Everyone, at some point in their life, will face a challenge. Resilience is what gives us the emotional strength to deal with challenges that life brings along our path. Care partners and people living with dementia are starting this journey with a life experience that is unique to each one of you. We want to honour the life experience you have and positive supports you already have in your life.

Because resilience is built on our positive and negative experiences, we can apply our early life’s lessons later in life. Think of when you learned to ride a bike, which might feel like a lifetime ago, or learning to drive a car. You have learned to manage perhaps some fear, to anticipate what you would need to address a flat tire, or how to deal with having to take an unexpected detour.

An image is often worth a thousand words. The following video will introduce you to a teeter totter. This teeter totter can help you reflect on your resilience. You will find exercises that will build on this image as you move through Seeds of Hope family learning series.

Learning to Balance

,

Care partners and people living with dementia have mentioned they like to think about resilience as their ability to bounce forward. When your teeter totter leans toward the positive, you have more capacity to handle the unexpected hurdles that come along. Just like driving a car or riding a bike, we all need to be moving forward to get over the bump on the road. That’s how, when maintaining a positive balance, we learn to bounce forward and be more resilient!

,

Life Skills

Life skills are mental processes that help us plan, juggle many demands, remember instructions, and focus our attention successfully.  When we have strong life skills, they seem invisible to others! 

Think of an air traffic controller. For an airport to run smoothly, a successful air traffic controller keeps tabs on incoming and outgoing planes on multiple runways. Just like an air traffic controller, life skills enable us to keep the multiple life demands and distractions we have from crashing into one another. 

Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University (2011). Building the Brain’s “Air Traffic Control” System: How Early Experiences Shape the Development of Executive Function: Working Paper No. 11. Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu.

In your teeter-totter, strong life skills increase your ability to have more weight on the challenging side while remaining positive. Mapping your life skills can allow you to reach for resources that can support them, allowing you to keep bouncing forward.

The following PDF has a reflection activity to help you map out your life skills. Thinking about how you are feeling today, look at both statements on each row and choose the one that applies to you the most now. Reflecting on how you are doing can feel challenging, but this can also be an opportunity to increase your awareness of what you need.

Life Skills Check-In Activity

For Reflection...

Now that you’ve completed the Life Skills Check-In take a few minutes to reflect on your results and consider the following questions.  Feel free to make some notes.

  • What stands out to you as you think about your results?
  • What will you do to build your life skills as you continue to build your resilience and bounce forward?

How Balanced Are You Today? 

Reflecting on what you are doing well and areas you can improve on can help you stay upright and keep moving forward—just like riding a bike!

The tool below will help you to reflect on your situation, as it is today.

For each side of the teeter totter, we provide examples. Think about how each category applies to your situation and decide how big of a role it plays in your life. You may find that none of the suggestions apply to you; feel free to choose “other”. You can add comments once you submit your results to remember what “other” meant for you. If you are a member, you can save your results to your dashboard to compare later.

  1. Positive Supports: We all have things in our life that we prefer to do or that once done, we feel grateful to have had the opportunity to do. How do you recharge? 
  2. Stressors: Stress is part of life. When positive, stress can motivate us. Ongoing and extreme stress can make it difficult to tackle the challenges in our lives. What is weighing you down today? 
  3. Life Skills: Life skills are not static. Depending on the circumstances, we can rely on a greater or smaller number of them. How well is your air traffic control system working? These are the same questions as you completed in the previous exercise. Feel free to refer back to the life skills checklist.

You might notice that this activity appears at various points within this Seeds of Hope program. The dementia trajectory has an ongoing impact on people living with dementia and their care partners. It’s helpful over time to pause and think about your positive supports, stressors, and life skills. 

Discover Your Balance Check-In

Try the Tool
Learning to balance.
Resilience is what gives us the emotional strength to deal with challenges that life brings along our path. It is built on our positive and negative life experiences. We can apply our early life lessons later in life. With proper support, even as an adult, it is possible to increase our resilience.

Use our tool to see how your balance is today and discover our resources. You can save your results to your dashboard to reflect on later.

More Learning Resources

Alberta Family Wellness Initiative

What are Executive Function Skills

Executive Function & Self-Regulation