When a loved one is diagnosed with a debilitating illness such as mesothelioma, everyday life can become full of challenges for those who care for them.
In addition to taking on the role of caregiver, you may have to take more responsibility for decision making, financial management, household chores and caring for children and pets.
Then there is the emotional turmoil that comes with the new reality: Feelings of isolation, sadness, anger, helplessness and fear. With all this going on, it is easy to believe that joy can no longer be found in life.
But no matter how challenging life may become, moments of joy are possible, and you can find them in something most of us take for granted — nature.
Tapping into Nature
Nature is all around us, but we often don’t stop to appreciate or acknowledge the vital role it plays in our physical and emotional well-being.
You do not have to travel to the Amazon rainforest to experience the wonder of nature. It can be found right in your own backyard.
When we tune in to nature, our senses of sight, hearing, smell and touch are awakened and we are open to experience pure joy.
Caregiving for a loved one with mesothelioma is never easy, but experiencing moments of joy, no matter how fleeting, can provide some valuable time away from emotional stress and help renew the energy you need to continue your vital role.
Here are five things you can do to find your moments of joy.
Use a Tree as a Meditation Focus Point
Make your way out into the backyard and find a quiet, secluded place where you can focus on nothing other than a tree in your line of sight.
Shut all thoughts from your mind as you concentrate on the smaller branches of the tree. Watch how they move as the wind blows, and listen to the rustling of the leaves.
If you are fortunate to have birds visiting, watch them as they sit on the tree. Appreciate how beautiful and unique they are and listen to their calls. Stay as long as you like, enjoying this wonderful connection with nature.
Collect Fallen Leaves
Take a walk to the park or into your own backyard. Focus on leaves on the grass. Scoop up a handful of them and note the following:
- Color: Are they predominately green or a combination of green, red, yellow and brown?
- Shape: Which trees did they come from?
- Feel: Are they smooth or rough? Are there any seeds on the back of them?
- Smell: Are they sweet-smelling or earthy?
As you answer these questions, you will feel closer to nature and be able to put worrying thoughts aside.
Take some leaves home and put them in a glass jar. Every time you look at them, they will provide a pleasant memory of the joy you felt that day.
Visit the Ocean
Go for a walk along the beach. Feel the sand under your feet and notice how the sand sifts between your toes. Walk down to the water’s edge and feel the cool wash of the waves on your feet.
Close your eyes and feel the cool ocean spray on your face — take deep breaths and fill your lungs with clean, healthy air. Find a place on the sand where you can stay dry and gaze at the vision before you.
Concentrate on the waves crashing to shore. Enjoy their rhythm as they roll up the sand and then back to the sea. Notice the foam left behind as it glistens in the sun.
Walk along the shore to a group of shells. Take a handful into your hand. Notice how varied they are. What shape are they? What color are they? Where did they come from?
Take a few shells home and display them as a pleasant reminder of the joy you experienced at the beach.
Observe Life in a Garden
Take a walk out to a garden. Sit on a comfortable chair and spend some time really looking at the abundance of nature there. If you look closely, you will see life in many forms.
On the ground there will be trails of ants carrying out their business, snails hiding in their shells, the remnants of dead flowers, splashes of color against the mulch.
Next, focus on the flowers and how many varieties there are. Note how perfectly each flower is formed and how many buds are about to open. Take a close look at the leaves and how symmetrical they are.
Close your eyes, take a deep breath through your nose and enjoy the wonderful scent of the flowers. It is the best perfume you will ever find.
Rise and Relax with the Sun
Set your alarm clock to wake up early one morning so you can experience the sunrise. As you watch the beautiful colors come into the sky, close your eyes and listen to the sounds of nature waking up around you.
At the end of day, stop whatever you are doing and make your way outside to watch the sunset. As you look up to the sky, take some slow, deep breaths. Notice how this relaxes your body and your mind.
Then focus on the sunset. See how the colors build and then fade. Watch closely as the sun disappears and darkness descends.
Your appreciation of the beauty you have witnessed will remain long after the sun has set.