Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy is known for her strength in the face of adversity, but few recognize that she was also a family caregiver. Rose’s first notable experience as a caregiver began when her daughter Rosemary Kennedy was diagnosed with an undetermined mental disability.

Her next experience was years later, when her husband Joe Sr. suffered from a debilitating stroke, leaving Rose to oversee his care until his passing eight years later.

As a caregiver and a public figure there had to be times when she felt uneasy and distressed that so much was out of her control, and in this regard, she would not be alone. In fact, as a caregiver you too may expereince emotional strain and as a result begin to question your life’s purpose, opening the door to spiritual distress.

 
 

Spiritual distress is often the result of living in a manner contrary to the dictates of your conscience. In fact, with spiritual distress, you are likely ignoring the call for spiritual journey in your caregiving and depriving yourself of what is vital to your well-being. The door is opened for a general feeling of meaninglessness in your life. You may experience increased cynicism, distrust of others, isolation, alienation or estrangement and have a hopeless attitude toward the future.

Caregiver Wellness

Spiritual wellness is a part of caregiver wellness. Spiritual wellness
is possible when you can acknowledge and accept that you deserve to live a life that involves self-determination, the freedom to make choices, the opportunity for self-development and activities that place value on your volunteer orientation.

Are You Spiritually Well?

Please take this opportunity to evaluate your spiritual wellness. There are five statements; consider each statement openly and honestly. Assign two points (2) if you do not agree with the statement and one point (1) if you somewhat agree. Do not assign any points (0) if you agree with the statement.

I have someone with whom I feel comfortable talking about my spiritual needs.

I am experiencing a sense of inner emptiness and see very few positive things in life.

I am at peace with myself and my life.

I tend to look for “magic solutions” to problems rather than searching for solutions from within.

Lately I have self-doubts about and constantly feel as though I need to prove myself.

Evaluate Your Score and Enhance Your Spiritual Wellness

A score of 7 or higher may indicate that you might want to reach out to improve your spiritual base.

A score between 5 and 6 may indicate that you are doing okay spiritually.

A score between 0 and 5 may indicate that you are spiritually well.

The following are four tips to improve your spiritual wellness.

Read an Inspirational Book or Poem

Tremendous insight can be gleaned using the truthful accounts of historical figures like Rose Kennedy to identify useful strategies that may help you get in tune with your sprituality. In fact, by reading an inspirational book or poem you may gain a new perspective or pinpoint an effective practice to contribute to your spiritual well-being.

Define What Spiritual Wellness Means to You

Creating your personal definition of spiritual wellness can help you identify and perhaps incorporate activities to help you live in line with your spiritual core. Additionally, by defining what it means to you to be spiritual you will likely be in a better place to identify people, places, and things that disrupt your spiritual balance. This way you can disconnect from spiritually distressing circumstances.

Use Visualization to Return to a Good Place

Close your eyes for just a moment, if you will, and imagine that you are traveling to a place of spiritual or religious significance that is thousands of miles away. The voyage is arduous, but when you finally arrive at your destination, the scenery is more magnificent than you visualized, your soul vibrates and you are revitalized. You take the opportunity to acknowledge that having made it to such a divine location is a testament to your inner strength. You are refreshed! Now open your eyes. You have just taken a mental pilgrimage.

Reach Out to Someone You Trust

If you are experiencing spiritual distress, reach out to someone that you trust like your pastor or a confidant. It is vitally important to have someone you can talk to about how you are feeling. If your distress is not resolved it might be time to seek help from a professional counselor or therapist.

Do you know anyone who is a caregiver? What has their experience been like so far? If you are a caregiver how would you assess your spiritual wellness? What does spiritual wellness mean to you? How do you care for yourself as you care for others? Please join the conversation.

Eboni GreenDr. Eboni Green is an author and educator who has a passion for training, supporting, advocating for and educating family and frontline caregivers. She and her husband cofounded Caregiver Support Services, a nonprofit organization that provides training and consulting for caregivers. Dr. Green is a published author and has written three books focusing on family caregiving. You can follow her on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, or connect via LinkedIn.

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