Margaret puts pen to paper to practice mindfulness
The demands of caring for her husband full-time mean that Margaret doesn’t get much time to herself, so she relishes the opportunity to switch off completely.
By joining Carer Support’s monthly Creative Writing Group, Margaret is experiencing the calming effects of using her imagination and concentrating on a single task for an hour or two.
Margaret has been caring intensively for her husband, Peter, for 27 years. Peter has Guillain–Barré syndrome and is a C5 quadriplegic, which means she helps Peter with pretty much everything from getting dressed to showering, eating meals and more.
“While Peter is his own voice, I am his arms and legs,” says Margaret.
“I’ve been registered with Carer Support for many years, and while getting formal help in my caring role was a priority in the early days, now my main focus is on getting a regular break.”
Margaret has been attending the Creative Writing Group for several years, and when she opens up about her experience, it’s easy to hear the passion and animation in her voice.
“There is no pressure in the group; it’s just fun and relaxing. Everyone is so nice, and we laugh so loudly. It’s just a total switch-off, which we all need sometimes.”
Recent evidence shows there are substantial benefits from focusing on a specific activity, such as writing a story or a poem. During these moments of mindfulness, you are present in the moment and put past and future worries aside for a while.
In a nutshell, “mindfulness is all about paying attention to your life in the present moment and being engaged with whatever is happening around you and with you. Mindfulness is said to benefit overall health because it brings about a sense of contentment and allows a person to stop and contemplate their life.” (Source: Starts at 60)
Margaret finds writing so satisfying, that she continues putting into practice her new-found skills when she and Peter go on their annual caravan trip north to escape the cold.
“Peter’s core temperature drops in winter, so it’s impossible for him to get around,” Margaret explains. “We enjoy the peace and serenity of the country, and it’s where I started my writing. It all began with writing letters to my family while we were away.”
Carer Support offers more than 25 groups that cater to carers who share similar experiences, geographical locations and cultural backgrounds. While some meet for a specific activity or serious debrief, others meet for a casual coffee or meal. Find out more about mixing with other carers.
Margaret kindly provided us with some of her letters to family, of which we have included excerpts below...