The Caregiver Cup Podcast

Triage Your Caregiver Stress: Building Your Toolkit through Emotional Color-Coding

July 11, 2023 Cathy VandenHeuvel Episode 169
The Caregiver Cup Podcast
Triage Your Caregiver Stress: Building Your Toolkit through Emotional Color-Coding
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Ever wondered how your body is signaling stress levels and what the clues might mean? Join me as I take you on a journey of self-discovery, mapping stress zones and crafting strategies to manage caregiver stress. Drawing parallels from the ER triage system and my personal experience with my husband's injury, we'll explore how assessing your stress can be the first step towards better emotional resilience.

Dive into the world of color-coding your emotions, a simple yet profound technique to recognize and respond to the undercurrents of caregiving feelings. Let's reveal the patterns hidden in green, blue, yellow and red zones; from days of tranquility to times of fear and frustration. I'll share my raw, personal journey during a six-week stem cell transplant, providing insights into feelings of isolation and exhaustion, and how recognizing your color zone can provide relief.

Finally, let's walk together as we navigate different emotional zones, harnessing green days to build strength and turning blue days into opportunities for self-care. I'll share strategies that helped my 8-year-old son Jamie manage his 'red zone' moments, and my personal introspective journey during my dad's chemotherapy decision. Ready to build your personal toolkit to manage caregiver stress? Let's get started.

Get more training on the color coding system and toolkit strategy, join the waitlist for the NEW, upcoming Empowerful Caregiver program 

Get my free resource:  17 SHIFTS TO TAKE CONTROL OF CAREGIVER STRESS that will take you to the best version of yourself.

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Speaker 1:

Well, hello, my friend, and welcome back to another episode of the caregiver cup podcast. I am so excited to share with you today this ritual that I started after my morning walks. And this ritual is all about assessing my stress and staying on top of it, because when I'm aware of how I feel each day, i can then take action or do things to go ahead and control those days. And if you think about it, some days are super, super hard and they're high stress, right, and you wake up. Maybe you do some things, but it's still there, it's heavy. Or you might have mediocre days where you're not stressed, but you're just really down in the dumps and blah right. Or maybe it's your anxiety is just there, or it's worry that's just getting the best of you. Or there are days where I had one of these last week where you just are ready to bubble over If somebody looked at you cross-eyed. You're going to do something and you can't function because you're just not your best self.

Speaker 1:

Well, i have this amazing practice that I want to share with you today that I've been working through and trying to massage and make it my own, and it's really been working for me And that's why I want to share it with you. By the way, this is one of my practices that I'm going to be including in this new and upcoming caregiver program that is going to be coming out in September. It's called the Empowerful Caregiver. If you want to be on the waitlist for this and be part of this program, or at least know what it's all about, i have a waitlist that I have for you And you can go to kathyelvancom forward slash empowerful. I know it's not a word, but I'm creating the word And I'll put this link in the show notes so at least when I'm ready to launch this program, you're going to be the first to know. So let me get back into what I want to talk about with you. That, i think, is really a key for me now to go ahead and use it. And just a little disclaimer I wish I would have had this created for me back when I was in the thick of it, When I was in the thick of it. It still works for me every single day, but I could see now how this could work for me when I was caregiving mom, when I was caregiving my dad.

Speaker 1:

What I'm relating it to is triage, and you'll notice that I titled the episode triaging your caregiver stress, And if you think about a go into an ER, or if you think about the health professionals working in the ER, they're assessing the patient and they're triaging, and so I'll share that in just a bit here, bones. But the two things I want to cover in this episode is I want to unpack the importance of triaging yourself each day, triaging your stress each day, and then I want to talk about how you can build your own toolkit to work through whatever that day's stress is, and you're going to build this toolkit so that you will know when you wake up and you're just angry. Okay, these are some of the things that I can do, and I think this is really cool, and so imagine yourself leaving today with this understanding. So I want to talk about our nervous system, because this is how this whole thing stems from. We have this amazing nervous system that tells us what's wrong with us and protects us When things are not right. It activates a response or a reaction, or it tells us what to do And our mind gets triggered. But our body gives off most of the the identity of the stress. 80% of our stress comes out in our body and our body responses. 20% comes out in our mind, and so it's just really interesting. So this is what I want to talk about today.

Speaker 1:

So let me start out by talking about the first part of this, this episode, which is the importance of triaging yourself And think about, like I said just a few seconds ago, think about you go into the ER, right, and you go in for your situation. My husband, about a year and a half ago, was working on his saw out in the backyard and he cut off the tip of his finger, and so this was during the, the pandemic time, where we actually couldn't go in completely into the ER. I could wait outside and he could go in. So you go into the ER and what happens? first, after you check in, a triage nurse asks you a series of questions and assesses your for for Dennis it was his injury or his condition. She checks his vitals, his temperature, his pulse, his heart rate, his blood pressure, then looks at the wound And then she determines which level of triage and what level of care my husband needed.

Speaker 1:

So the triage categories it depends on which hospital system you go into, what areas of the country you're in, or the the world you're in, but the one that I found is like there's red, a red triage category, which is immediate evaluation by a physician, and then there's an orange which is emergent in the evaluations within 15 minutes. And then there's a yellow one where they're unstable, but they and they need evaluation in 60 minutes. And then there's the nonemergency ones that they call green or blue, depending on the situation. Now also there's a military triage, that it's a much simpler red means severe injury, high potential for survival, and they need treat treatment immediately. Yellow means it's serious, but they it's not life threatening. And green means they're walking, but they're wounded and they need care, but they don't need the urgent ones.

Speaker 1:

That's what I want to talk about for us when we're in a stressful situation, because it got me thinking about color coding the stress each day and my stress each day, and I've been trying this now for about six months. But just think about if you could identify your color each day and then you had ways that you could work through your color, and that's where the light bulb moment went up for me. And my suggestion is I don't do it like immediately when I when I put my feet on the floor from my bed, because I'm still in that. I'm gonna just be honest, that moan and groan, feeling of like Oh I got to get up, i'm so tired, kind of state. I don't assess myself right then, and there I do my morning ritual first, which is going for a walk. Right now I water my garden, so I'm outside in the sun And so I'm giving myself enough time to wake up. But when the stress is there, you still feel it. So whatever you do, i think it's important to assess yourself, maybe within an hour or two of each day, and you can get an overall identity of your stress. You know me quick coffee sip here, and so what I do then is I wake up each day, take a few minutes and I assess myself and really get an idea. It may be a good day where I feel rested, or it could be a rough day where you or I don't know don't want to wake up or we feel off that day. There's so many days where I just say I feel off and I don't know what it is. So this color coding system will help you better identify which zone you're in Now.

Speaker 1:

My little disclaimer here is I'm giving you the accelerated version versus in the course. There's a lot more to it and we dive deeper. So there might be some questions yet for you. But so go out to kathielvancom, forward, slash and powerful and get on my wait list if you want to learn more and you want to be part of my upcoming course. But otherwise, there's four color coding systems that can help you identify your patterns. Maybe there's patterns that happen. Maybe you know you were at the hospital the day before and every day after you're exhausted, whatever it would be, it'll help you identify the patterns, your feelings, your thoughts, your workload, your and your overall stress, and so I use the same zones similar to triaging and color coding.

Speaker 1:

I'm going to start out with the good right now the green zone. This is where things are easy. You don't really feel added stress or pressure. You had a good night's sleep, you feel rested, your energy level is pretty good, you may even have an extra step in your walk, and this may be a good day of caregiving right now for you, or maybe even a day off, or your loved one feels good today, or it may more or less. You have little to no stress. I still want you to recognize those days, because those days tell you so much about who you are. So that's the first one. The second one is the blue zone. The blue zone is just that.

Speaker 1:

Think of the word or think of feeling blue. You feel depressed, you feel disconnected or isolated. Apathy, thoughts of maybe. Your thoughts are I can't do this anymore or I'm totally feeling stuck. I feel like I'm an autopilot. This is too much. These are normal phases and stressors of the of caregiving. It's not crisis mode for you, but you're just feeling blue And you want to get up each day and pursue.

Speaker 1:

Maybe you want to get up each day and pursue your hobby or your passion, but then start thinking why bother? What's the use? You just don't have any motivation. How far can I get with it? Anyway, you're very depleted yourself, depleting yourself, self sabotaging yourself. Your body is responding to the caregiver stress here And it tries to protect you by telling you to slow down. And so, if there are stressors, this may be an example how your body is just trying to calm you down. It's trying to just relax you.

Speaker 1:

I felt this way a lot when I was in the stem cell transplant for six weeks. I felt isolated, depleted. I felt like, well, you know, it's another day, it's the same old, same old. I, you know, and I just kept myself in low gear and maybe my my body was responding because it was so intense. Okay, now I'm going to the other spectrum of the color coding and I call the yellow and red zone the fight and flight side of the red zone or of the yellow and red zone. I'm going to start out with the yellow zone And think about a B. You know a B a bumblebee is yellow and your feelings are buzzing. Your feelings are buzzing in the yellow zone anxiety, panic, fear, frustration, all of these feelings. You may even have excessive worry or guilt. They these feelings, they are these and are disrupting you from a good day or a good experience. They're robbing you of this. The best example I heard and I heard this on a podcast, it's an entrepreneur podcast and I had to steal this example because it's such a good example When you're in a yellow zone and it reminds me of see like you're out in nature, maybe you're, you're, you're camping and all of a sudden you see a bear in the distance.

Speaker 1:

Yes, a bear, a big black bear in the distance, but it's still far enough away that you're not in this complete like you want to run stage or you're completely you know standoffish from it. You can see it far away, so it's causing you a little bit of anger. You're fearful, you're worried that it's going to come, but it's still far enough away that you are okay. But there's, it's always in the back of your mind. Yellow zone is that buzzing feeling versus in a red zone? Now think of the think of the bear in the red zone. The bear is right there. And what do you need to do when the bear is right there? You need to decide are you going to run or are you going to fight? And for you in the red zone, this is the heated or the hot zone. You're in fight or flight mode mode and it's urgent, or your body's an overdrive. So think of things like maybe you snapped, you can't take it anymore. If I would hear my mom say one more time Kathy, can you go ahead and do this? Or you know she if she would say, kathy, when are you coming over? or whatever.

Speaker 1:

I think of people that are dealing with somebody with dementia. They're continually asking, or the the loved one does is confused, and eventually you feel like you're going to snap, or things are out of control for you internally, or you're yelling or you're screaming. Your body is fighting and you might even lose it emotionally or sometimes physically with it. I had the situation last week where I was not in the right state of mind and losing my puppy. And she's no longer a puppy, she's a year and a half. But if I'm doing things like recording my podcast and she wants attention, she's gonna find something to get my attention. Well, she went into the garbage can and took all of the Kleenex and all of the junk out of the garbage can and just sprinkle it all over the floor. Well, most days I could just go buy it and just be fine with it. Well, i lost it last week. I lost it. I mean, i physically didn't hurt her because she's my baby, but I pounded on the cupboard and I was screaming at the top of my lungs because I was in this red zone of stress And I had to figure out why I was in this red zone of stress and why I reacted that way.

Speaker 1:

In this phase or this zone we have a lot of shame or guilt about feeling this way. We'll think back and going why in the world did I do this? But this is a protective response to our stress Being at its highest. We've all been there, we've all done it, and sometimes it might not be yelling or screaming. Sometimes it may be getting in the shower and you just break down and you cry Or you scream at the person that you love and saying can you just give me five minutes? Or beeping the horn at somebody that is still sitting at the stop and go light. And they didn't see the light was green And instead of just giving them a little tap, you just lay into the horn Or you just feel like you have to break something.

Speaker 1:

So I think that when we recognize what zone we are in green, blue, yellow or red we can then go ahead and have this recognition code or zone that we can recognize it, and then we can go ahead and build a toolkit, and that's what I'm talking about. We can build this toolkit and pull out practices and techniques to use when we're in a zone. Just like the ER, health professionals, the nurses and the doctors, they have a triage process that they use. If somebody comes in and they cut their head open, obviously that they're not going to go to the green zone, they're going to go into probably a higher zone. They're probably not gonna go into the heart attack zone of the red, they're probably in the yellow zone And they then create a process in that zone to go ahead and take care of that person.

Speaker 1:

My disclaimer here is not there's no one size that fits all. That's why I've been saying to you you're gonna create your own toolkit that's gonna help you when you're in each of those zones. And because you are unique, your situation is yours, your body and feelings are yours and your journey is yours. It might you might be newer in the journey or this might be your 10th year as a caregiver. So that's what you wanna create.

Speaker 1:

And what's really neat is let me explain what the program, upcoming program's gonna be. We're gonna get into these zones in great detail. We're gonna break down these zones and really talk about these zones. And then we're gonna talk about the different senses that can help. Our body has like five senses the smell, the hearing and so on. We're gonna talk about senses and techniques in those senses that are going to calm our stress levels down. And then you're going to go ahead and create your toolkit based on each of the zones.

Speaker 1:

And what I wanna do is I wanna give you kind of a quick idea of what you can do in these zones, cause I think you can take action and start using the structure right now. The best way to do this is, i think, is to get yourself a notebook and get yourself a notebook, and the first thing that you wanna do is pay attention to your days and identify your green zone days, your red zone days, your blue zone days, your yellow zone days, and recognize those and start identifying how you're feeling, what your mind is telling you, what your body is telling you, and start paying attention to it. I actually got to the point where in my journal I do a little color dot and if it's a green zone day, i'll put a green zone day on it, and so I can start seeing patterns of what's happening. And then I have also created and I made tabs in my notebook and you can use this on the computer and your notes. But what can I do in each of those zones to calm my stress down or enhance like, if I'm in the green zone, enhance that good day, and so that's what the ideal world would be. And so then you have this toolkit that you can pull out when you're in those zones, because when you're in a red zone, the worst thing that you could do is try to figure out how do I get out of it. You can say, okay, in the past, this is what I've done and it worked for me, i'm gonna do this again and you have a go-to thing. So then, each day, then you can go ahead and do this. So, personally, i assess myself after my morning walk and I go back because I do my daily journaling each day after my morning walk. So I just incorporated this little quick fix into it. But you can check yourself. Whatever time it is, you might be able to say, well, today's going to be a yellow day, and then all of a sudden it went to a red zone and a situation sparked. So it could happen that way. But you're gonna pick a time that best works for you and go ahead and do that. So let's break down the green and all of the zones, and I'm gonna talk through some suggested tools that you could put in your toolkit or spark some ideas for you.

Speaker 1:

Now you wake up and you feel green today, and green is a good thing. Green right away. I think about oh, you're sick. No, you wake up in a green zone day. It's a good day, and maybe that maybe you're. You're identifying it, as I have no doctor's appointments for my loved one. My loved one is feeling good today And you're getting time to yourself, so maybe that's a good day for you And maybe that's what you do.

Speaker 1:

What can you do today in the green zone? I want you to challenge yourself. You don't usually take time to go ahead and recognize these, and we don't get many days that are green zone, and so what can you do to take advantage of being in a good mood, being energized, getting a good night's sleep? Maybe it's time for you to work on your hobby today and enjoy your hobby, versus working on your hobby when you're stressed out. Maybe you can go ahead and say, hey, what are you doing today? My loved one is feeling really good, which means that I can get out for a little bit today. Maybe you call a friend or you're getting to that creative space. Remember, green can help heal your stressors later down the road or fuel you through those bad zones.

Speaker 1:

Maybe you take on a harder task that you don't have to do when you're in one of the other zones, maybe on a green zone day. Those are the days where I'm going to do insurance calls or calling the doctor or I'm going to go through medical records, or the flip side of it, when I'm in a green zone day. Those are the days when I absolutely love to record my podcasts. Or those are days where I absolutely do my research and start creatively writing my notes. Those are my green zone days. Think of go green and its benefits that it could do for you, and start putting in the things that you could potentially do in your green zone days.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so let's talk about the blue zone days. Remember today. Maybe you feel depleted, you just want to give up. You're isolated. The best thing that you can do in your blue zone days is go back to that journal and record those days, making sure you put that blue zone dot in your journal. Maybe talk about or write about what your blue zone day feels like to you. This can help you pay attention to the patterns. Maybe it's your energy is depleted And what's really impressive is your body will try to calm yourself down if you're tired, if you're fatigued, if you didn't have a lot of sleep. Sorry, i've been dealing with allergies and my throat is just going to go wild right now. So just one second. And then you can ask yourself why do you feel this way? What happened the night before? What happened the day before? That kind of thing. Pay attention to that.

Speaker 1:

Now here's the big thing. You start building this toolkit in your blue zone because you want to move out of this state or make this zone more tolerable. When you are in this zone, you want to take action on blue, and one of the things that's really kind of interesting about this is in the blue zone, you're down, you're depleted, you're depressed, which means that this is the zone where you want to have I use this as my engaging zone You want things that are going to pick you up, but you don't want to go ahead. And if you're down and depleted, you don't want to say, well, we're going to go and we're going to go to the highest level of energy. No, you got to build up that energy to that, to that level that you're feeling.

Speaker 1:

So my go-to when I'm feeling depleted and down in the dumps and feeling physically, just physically or emotionally stressed, my go-to is getting outside. Getting outside, and it could be a 10 minute walk, and I say no tech. I say no tech sometimes because I want my body to take in the sounds of nature. I want myself to do that, because what I did in the past was I distracted myself and listened to a podcast. Unless it motivates me, i'm just going to go ahead and listen. It might be calling a friend and saying, hey, tell me something fun that's going on, or turning on music that will perk you up because you don't want to stay in the blue zone too long. It's okay to feel sad, but too much will lead to depression, isolation, and it can easily can affect your emotional and physical stress In this zone.

Speaker 1:

I also want you to think about your senses, your four senses. Is there anything that can activate your blue zone and pull you up a bit? Like the smell of citrus boosts your mood, and so, if you're not allergic to like candles, you maybe or like a spray, you could spray lemon scent around. Or maybe, if you're allergic to that, maybe it's pouring yourself a water but getting and squeezing in some lemon into your water and that smells going to boost your mood. Or maybe it's laughing to help you to do it.

Speaker 1:

What I have done is I have saved some of my favorite TikTok videos or YouTube videos to my phone And if I'm feeling down in the dumps I watch them. Kids videos are the best. I'm a pet lover, so dog videos are the best, not the depressing ones. That's the worst thing you can do Watch the ones that are going to be picked me up and save those. And the flip side deep tresp or deep breathing may not work in this zone, because when you do deep breathing, what is that doing to you? It's in that calming state And really that's depleting or why can't I think of the word? It's causing you to be more down and it's fighting against the engaging piece of it. So start trying this and start the ones that work for you. You'll realize what works and works And then your toolkit will build. When somebody is down in the dumps, or your loved ones down in the dumps, think about what you do to them to get them boosted, their energy up. Usually it's getting out. It's usually moving their body. It's usually engaging in something to get them going.

Speaker 1:

Okay, now the yellow zone. This is the one where we all feel it's another one we feel. That's what I'm trying to get at. We all feel this at one point or another Anxiety, panic, fear, frustration, worry, guilt. Now I know we just can't run away, which our nervous system wants to do. Remember, this is the yellow and the red are in the fight or flight mode. We can't just run away and just be done with it, right. But what can you do when you feel anxiety or panic? What can you do?

Speaker 1:

Let's say you have anxiety or panic and you're in the doctor's office. You're in the doctor's office and you're nervous or you're frustrated because they didn't and you've been waiting now 45 minutes. What can you do when you're in this zone? Remember, this is the zone where you're feeling excessive energy, so you're trying to calm your body down, and so now the deep chest breathing may work for you. Journaling may work for you. A light, casual walk might work for you.

Speaker 1:

This is the times where I'll go ahead and walk out in my garden and pull off all of the dead flowers and the weeds out of the gardens. It's putsy quiet work. So maybe you need like a hug when you're in this panic attack. Well, you can't wait to walk out in the garden. You need like a hug when you're in this panic attack. Well, you can't wait in the waiting room and say, well, you hug me, but you can. Maybe you go ahead and grab your shoulders or your biceps of your arm and cross your arms and you just do a squeeze And you squeeze and that's just a reminder. Calm yourself down, or you hold your heart. You do that.

Speaker 1:

So I've already done two in the waiting room where I know that I would get anxious or nervous, especially with my mom. My husband was more of a calming person. My mom was the overly anxious person or the angry person that wanted to leave and the anxiety would kick in. I'd cross my legs and twirl my ankles. I would get up and go for a walk and saying I'll be right back. I'm going to go ahead and get some water and go ahead and do that. I would bring a blanket along. Sometimes when you cover yourself up, it feels more secure.

Speaker 1:

You might have a scent or something that you could go ahead and do Right away. I think about those scented stickers. or you have pictures on your phone that calm you down. Maybe, if something on your phone you want to think of something calming in this state, try these things, record them in your journal and what works? Also record things that attribute to that. Maybe when you're in this state of anxiety or panic. Caffeine is not going to be the ticket for you. You might need some tea, you might need something else.

Speaker 1:

Okay, let's talk about red zone. This is the out of control, the outburst, the heated, the hot zone. This one is important to figure out. How you got there. Were you in another zone first and it bubbled over? Your goal should be not to get here as much if you're using your tools in the blue and the yellow, but we all know life can throw us curves and we can lose it. All it would take is not getting a good night's sleep or three things happening in the same day and you're just thinking what the heck is going on, or like a late doctor, or not getting enough sleep, or, which I just said, too much on your plate and we just snap. We just snap Now. What do you need to do in this moment to calm yourself down? And that's the key in the moment you need to do in the moment. Somebody can't go ahead and tell you when you're in the hot zone, just take deep breaths. That's not going to work. Think of the bear. The bear is there, it's ready to attack and you're going to hold your finger up to the bear and say wait a minute, i need to do deep chest breathing first. That's not going to work. Oh my gosh.

Speaker 1:

I remember a time my youngest James, or Jamie I call him. He was eight years. There was eight years difference between my first, two or four years apart. And then Jamie was eight years down the road And he was pretty much the only child and he'll tell me about all of his deep traumas, about his older brothers beating him up and picking him on him all the time. But he had anger issues at school. If somebody cut him off in line he would burst out into anger. If he didn't get his way, he would resort to punching somebody, yelling or screaming. And I thought at first oh my gosh, i have this devil child. What the heck am I going to do? He got so many pink slips in grade school. I just was like beside myself. I took him to a licensed professional and they did an assessment. They talked to Jamie and the counselor said to Jamie anytime you're angry, jamie, put your hands in your pocket. In school, put your hands in your pocket because you're not going to be able to resort to physical hitting. If your hands are in your pocket You're going to have to smush your hands down in your pocket and hold them there, and you know what That trick worked. That was a tool in his toolbox And that seemed to help so he wouldn't resort to the physical action.

Speaker 1:

Another thing what can you do? Maybe it's going ahead and getting outside and taking a deep breath. How many times has somebody said I just need a moment. And they have to walk away from the situation, removing yourself from the moment and getting your composure. Whether your composure is crying anger, frustration, it might be even taking a ride, or walking around the block, taking a bike ride, taking a car ride, you know going ahead and saying you know what, i just need to go for a ride quick and I'll be back in a little bit. It might be you just need to dance it out, i don't know. Or calling a friend and asking for help and saying I just need to vent, i need to get it off my chest. Can you just listen and not say anything? And you've have a friend for that, do it. Or letting your emotions flow and just crying it out And just saying stop, i need to go ahead and do that. Only you know what works for you in the red zone And what you need to do is you need to go through those moments to figure out what you need.

Speaker 1:

I remember the day that my dad told me he was not going to have chemotherapy because he wanted to live the last months of his life more alert and happy and healthy and because he didn't have any pain from pancreatic cancer. But then he changed his mind because he wanted to be with my mom longer. I remember that day where I was in the red zone. I was so flipping angry at him for going forward and taking chemotherapy. Don't judge me either way. I was just hot red mad. I said, okay, i don't understand, and I used the pissed off word. I said I am angry and I just go, i need to be by myself for a few minutes And I just let my emotions go. I came back in crying and I finally accepted the situation. But I was in the red zone.

Speaker 1:

Think about what your body feels like and goes through High blood pressure, heated flush, whatever. Another example is think about a baby crying when they're in the red zone and they're just crying in the middle of the night and the poor mom does not know what to do with them. Her only goal is to calm that baby down and stop that baby from crying. And so she uses all of her senses, or all of the baby's senses, to do that. Think about it. You pick the baby up and you're holding them, so that sense of touch. Then you're rocking the baby back and forth trying to do that. She may sing to the baby, hum a song, so the sounds that way. Then she checks the baby's diaper, she goes ahead and gets that bottle or breast, feeds the baby, because that might be it. I've even resorted to putting some baby lotion on the baby, whatever it would be. All of those senses are leading into trying to calm the baby down. Something will work, something will help.

Speaker 1:

I wanna repeat one more time that your nervous system responds 80% of the time through your body. You're going to feel the zone you're in in your body, you're gonna feel it, you're gonna sense it in your body, and then 20% is in your mind. And so when you're thinking of things in your toolkit, you wanna think about the action and the doing and yourself and your body, and then you're gonna be doing your senses because that's going to go ahead and work 80% of the zone faster. So once you identify the zone, then you build your toolkit, like I said. Now, each day I journal, i put a color code on the day that I'm in, and I have a separate little I think it's a Target Spiral notebook with my zones in it. I've been doing that worked or somewhat, or something I've tried. I put everything that I tried in there and then I start the ones that work. I highlight the ones that are super effective, and so when I come to that zone and I'm in that zone for that day, i know where to go.

Speaker 1:

Another example that I have used now because through the process, is let's say, you're in the pharmacy line and picking up your loved ones prescriptions. You can't get the darn mail order stuff, because this one they need and they just change it and your loved one needs it right now, and so you're already stressed that you have to be at the pharmacy counter. Your loved one is waiting in the car and you don't want to inconvenience them too much out in the car because they need to get home and they need to rest. Well, you're at the pharmacy counter and there's two people in front of you and the person that's two in front of you is asking, in my words, asking all of these stupid, stupid questions that are taking forever. And they're not stupid, but in your mind you're saying come on, just get moving. And you're getting more and more stressed. You're in this yellow zone and you can feel that yellow zone bubbling into a red zone where you're going to blow up or say something pretty soon.

Speaker 1:

Well, what I've learned to do is, if you have a cart and you're pushing the cart through the pharmacy store, or if you have your purse or something, you squeeze into the handle, you squeeze into the whatever you're holding so that you can kind of feel that hug and you can feel it and you can release it, you can pulse it and you can release it, and that, for me, has worked in the situation I have also used the deep chest breathing, but it sometimes is perceived as being impatient. So I've kind of learned that I can't go like that in line because people turn around and look at me and then I'm stressing things out. But I have things now in my phone that I can grab. I can go ahead and look at photos, i can go ahead and even if I don't turn on the funny video sound, i can look at the video and it'll make me smile, and so that distracts my mood, and so those are some things that I have in my toolkit that might be of help to you. So today, i hope you found this zone, color coded zone and ideas of how to build a toolkit helpful. I would love to hear how this works for you And, most importantly, what tools are you using and adding to your toolkit to reset your nervous system, because this can be such a powerful thing.

Speaker 1:

Just think about it If you could build toolkits like this throughout your caregiving. You have some skill sets that you're building. Well, now you're building a toolkit for your nervous system. So, last thing, i know I pitched this a couple of times here, but I wanna say this again If you wanna learn more and you wanna be part of this upcoming new program called the Empowerful Caregiver and this might change, but it's yeah, empowerful Caregiver Get on my wait list by going to kathyelvancom forward slash empowerful. So, as always, I'm thank you for listening today. I hope you found this valuable And, most importantly, when you're building this toolkit, you're learning how to put yourself first and take care of yourself, because, as a caregiver, our journeys are not easy, but when we're creating systems and processes. We can go ahead and really embrace this journey and be the best self that we can be. You have a good rest of the day and we'll talk to you again next Tuesday. Bye for now.

Triage and Managing Caregiver Stress
Color Coding and Managing Caregiver Stress
Navigating Different Emotional Zones
Managing Emotions and Building Toolkits