Hope for living, loving and caring with no regrets!

Self-care: You Get to Choose

Episode 78

This week, Rayna Neises, your host, talks with Nicole Dauz.  Nicole is a mother, caregiver coach, and self-care advocate.  Based on her experiences, she provides her clients with the tools and strategies needed to shift from feeling stressed and overwhelmed to regaining control and feeling gratitude and joy.  She provides the following insights on caregiver self-care:

  • Our bodies are always communicating, and we need to appreciate and understand that.
  • When you take care of yourself, it impacts you plus every role in your life.
  • A day has 1,440 minutes. Start by finding just 15 minutes to take time for yourself.
  • There is no right or wrong way to do self-care. You get to choose.
  • Do something for yourself daily.
  • Changes in the care routine can impact your self-care routine.
  • Emotions are letting us know how we feel, and we need to acknowledge that.
  • Choose happiness.
  • Ask, “How would love show up?”

Transcript

*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation
Rayna Neises: 

Welcome to A Season of Caring Podcast where there’s hope for living, loving, and caring with no regrets. This is Rayna Neises, your host. and today I have special guest Nicole Dauz. Nicole is a caregiver coach and a self-care advocate who chooses happiness, despite her circumstances. She’s also the proud mother of a neuro-typical son and a daughter with a rare genetic disease and autism. Her mission is to change the story around caregiving and celebrate the journey. She honors the role of the caregiver by helping them recognize their worth and their gifts as a Self-care Coach experience is her teacher Nicole has clients come to her because they feel stressed to the max. She provides them the tools and strategies needed to shift from feeling stressed and overwhelmed to regaining control in their lives and feeling gratitude and joy in their lives. Welcome, Nicole. I’m so excited to have you here today.

Nicole Dauz: 

Oh, thank you. No, my pleasure. Thank you.

Rayna Neises: 

Well, I love what you’re doing and I think it’s so important that self-care word can be one that can really trip people up so definitely tell us what made you focus on caregivers self-care?

Nicole Dauz: 

Yeah, thanks. For me it had made such a huge difference in my life. My daughter,Summer, just like the season, is 12 and a half years old and we didn’t know anything. I’ll say was “wrong” with her for the first year of her life. So you can appreciate as a parent, I had a two and a half year old son, and then I had this beautiful daughter. And you know, when you’re sitting in the chair, nursing, you’re thinking of the life, right. Or graduation, coaching her in sports and wedding, et cetera. And it was only at our one-year checkup that our doctor was like, Hmm. I think you should go to see the neurologist at the hospital. Oh, that doesn’t sound good. And we quickly learned that she had development delays. So at 18 months she started weekly therapy to learn how to walk. And then after that for second year weekly therapy to learn how to hold a spoon and put on socks, et cetera. So I went from, excited mom of two kids, to survivor mode. With a very energetic three and a half year old who couldn’t understand why his sister was now getting all of the attention, all of the weekly appointments, the trips to the hospital, therapies, et cetera. And maybe why mommy and daddy were a little stressed out and crying lots. And so I share that because when we’re in survivor mode, we’re actually not living. It’s that constant, just get her done, get through the day. And so our body I’ve learned very well. Our body’s always communicating with us and I really didn’t appreciate that or understand it at the time. And so after about five years of being in survival mode, cause I was also working full time was Mysterious rashes on my body, that the dermatologist was like, I’ve never seen this before. And then I ended up in emergency. So I was actually at work, which I call my safe space because I could go to the bathroom by myself and I could eat lunch. And. I mean, those are a big deal for any caregiver. You know what I’m talking about? And I had a full on panic attack, but in the sense that I couldn’t breathe, I was literally banging on my desk. So someone would come and it hurt. And so I got rolled out on a trolley through my building Friday lunch at noon in front of everybody and went to the hospital. And by the time the doctor saw me, I was fine. I was breathing again and I’m an active, healthy person. So he’s like, you’re perfectly fine. There’s nothing wrong with you all as well. You know? Bye bye. And then I thought, oh no, no, that’s not normal. Like, what just happened to me is my body letting me know that something’s not right. And then I realized that there are no doctors who specialize in supporting caregivers. Nobody understands what it feels like to manage all of the emotions that we feel.

Rayna Neises: 

Yeah.

Nicole Dauz: 

And I say we as a group, because for me, there are finite number of emotions. So regardless of whom you’re caring for, or the severity of the disability or diagnosis, et cetera, we’ve all felt the anger, resentment, fear, shame, worry. And then the shame for feeling the anger and the shame for feeling the resentment and that all just gets stored in our body. And so what I realized after that day of being at the hospital was that I needed to take charge. I’m a great one more thing I need to do. I have to run the household, my daughter, and now myself, which I kind of laugh at now, but that was my first reaction. Right. Resentment. And then I made the decision to start going back to the gym and I knew that I would feel better. So I went to the gym. And I did feel better, but I went at 8:30 at night after the kids went to bed. So it’s not like an easy time. And then I slept better because I went to the gym and I was like, oh, finally, a positive cycle. And so I built on that and then I did start feeling better. And then I noticed I did have a little more patience with both kids and it impacted every role in my life not just me. And then I realized that so many other caregivers were experiencing the exact same emotions or different parts of their journey. And so I just started sharing and I just feel it’s so important because my daughter will require constant supervision. It was that extra urgency that I need to take care of myself because she needs me. Like I say, until one of us takes her last breath. I will be her caregiver. And so it’s not to put extra pressure, but it was to motivate me in a positive sense. Like, no, no, no. Nicole, like you need to. Keep your back strong so that you can carry her when she’s three and four years old and small things like that and be extra vigilant in how, you know, just whether it be stretching or resting or what you’re eating, and then not telling myself if that was the best gift that I could give myself in my family. So really trying to turn it around and to know this is a gift for everybody. And so that’s really what. I feel so passionate because I was able to move the marker and because I feel so different, I just want to help as many other caregivers as possible, make that same shift.

Rayna Neises: 

So powerful when we released. I realize, and I do think it is a mindset shift. So sometimes people are like, oh, you’re kind of playing a game here. You’re saying you’re important. And they need you. And, and so. I don’t know. I think sometimes we can argue ourselves out of understanding or really believing that that’s true, that taking care of you as the caregiver makes you a better caregiver, a better person. And like you said, a better employee, all of your roles are better when you’re taking care of yourself.

Nicole Dauz: 

A hundred percent.

Rayna Neises: 

And that was a tough way to learn it, but I’m so glad you did. And I liked that point as well, that so many times we’re not in touch with our bodies. And I think it is because we’re living in that reactive mode all the time. And we’re just going from one task to another, whether it be the grocery store or pay the bills or whatever it is that we don’t know tune into our bodies and what they’re telling us. So that’s such an important point as well. So obviously a panic attack is a big one. Are there things you notice on a daily basis when you start letting some of your self care slip?

Nicole Dauz: 

For me, it’s the my thoughts. And also I’d say my heart race. So, yes, and actually that’s such a good and important question because people believe that because I’m a coach and I’m supporting other people that I’ve got it covered. Like check I’m good with my self-care. And I live the beautiful life. And also I’ve actually had caregivers share that because when I show up, I’m always smiling and happy. Therefore, my life looks like this 24 7, and it’s just a gentle reminder to everybody that for me, when I talk about self-care and finding joy. That’s my north star and everyday looks a little different. So some days I can wake up and I’m having a great day. And as we all know, because they’re called hormones. Another day, we can wake up and if I can get five minutes of feeling amazing, I will grab that with everything I have. And so I think it’s that, you know, understanding that there’s ebbs and flows to the journey. And I originally made the mistake of thinking it was linear. Like that’s how naive I was at the beginning. I’m like, oh, I’ve got this self care thing down and then COVID hit. Holy sugar. Talk about the right? Cause you get to a place where you’re like, okay, I’m good. I’m in con you, you trick yourself to think number one, you’re in control. And number two, things will get better. Ha ha. That’s my, my weakness. And so when COVID hit, I actually relived the beginning of my caregivers. Because school’s closed and I went to full-time caregiver for my daughter. So we went in full lockdown, no school. And I was like, but, but, but no, no. And again, resentment, anger, fear. Well, how long is this going to take place? My daughter doesn’t understand what’s happening. And it was very interesting. So I found it very humbling. And I needed to go back and we literally reuse every tool and strategy that I have. And I just think that context is so important,

Rayna Neises: 

Huh.

Nicole Dauz: 

It’s allowed me to be a better coach because it almost, it reconnected with all of that vulnerability that we all carry with us. And some of us are better at kind of hiding it and compartmentalizing it. And so for me, I know now when my mind starts racing and I can feel my heartbeat increase. I’m like, oh, sugar. Okay. Something’s off a little, or I don’t quite feel myself. And then they may quite be possible as like, oh, I need to maybe just whether it’s connect with a really good friend and share what’s on my heart. Maybe it’s just journaling to release it. Or maybe it’s just a walk in nature. Or a good cry. Let me tell ya. I underestimated the power,

Rayna Neises: 

Yeah,

Nicole Dauz: 

the release that comes with that. So, so yeah, that’s what how my body now lets me know when I maybe need to do a little more self.

Rayna Neises: 

That’s great I think some of the things that came to mind for me when I noticed my self-care is not where it should be or where it was, is I have more body aches. I’m aging a little bit. So getting out of bed in the morning, I don’t

Nicole Dauz: 

We all are just so you know,

Rayna Neises: 

I don’t quite get around as quickly or even the quality of my sleep was impacted. It seems I’m a good sleeper, but when I’m not a good sleeper, I have to really take time to step back and go, okay. What’s eating at this where’s this coming from? So I can really tune into those feelings and process, like you said, so that we can move back to where we are taking care of ourselves as well. So that leaves me a little bit, you’ve said the word quite a bit, and I know that self-care, it can be either, oh, I’m really good at this. I love that. Or it’s like, don’t talk to me about that. So tell me a little bit about what you believe about why self-care is so divisive?

Nicole Dauz: 

It is. I think part and parcel part of it is COVID and everyone using that word in society and businesses, marketing self-care.

Rayna Neises: 

Hm.

Nicole Dauz: 

And telling us it’s something we need to pay for, or the belief that it’s the dinner out, it’s the weekend away, it’s the big trip, which are all wonderful activities and things I enjoy doing. But for me, I love removing the barriers around self-care. I love reminding caregivers that it’s accessible to all of us. That’s self-care, my definition is it’s anything that brings you in. As long as it’s legal, I have to throw that in there and then saying, what if I told you it doesn’t cost you anything and you get to do it from the comfort of your home. And it can be as little as 15 minutes a day. So one of my favorite tips or mindset tips for caregivers is don’t think of your day and hours. Think of your day in minutes. So there are 1,440 minutes in the day and I challenge you. Can you find 15? Now doesn’t that sound so much more accessible?

Rayna Neises: 

Sounds totally doable.

Nicole Dauz: 

And then you’re like, oh, I think I can do 15. And, and I say, well, we’re going to start. I love meeting caregivers where they’re at. And then I say, That we’re all unique individuals and there’s no right or wrong way to do self-care. And they’re like, oh really? I’m like, no, you can’t get it wrong. Like, it’s the most wonderful thing. So I’m like, there’s no judgment. There’s no comparison. And you get to choose. And so that’s what I love really diving into self-care. And that’s why I purposely choose to use that word and then really challenge people to think of it in a different way. Take ownership of it. Don’t let somebody else tell you what your self-care should look like. We advocate so well for the person for whom we’re caring. And we’re so good at that. So what I say is, well, advocate for yourself, say, you know what? I am worthy and that’s another part. I think why people resent the word self-care. Cause there may, they may not even realize it because then they think, oh, in order to do self-care or take time for myself, I need to believe I’m worthy. And in some cases I may need to ask for help. I may need to say to somebody, is it okay if you can watch, in my instance, you know, my daughter, so I can have an hour or I can take 30 minutes or I’m going to give my daughter the iPad for 30 minutes so that I can go downstairs and journal. I can hear her. I know she safe. So is it all of these small things that we tell ourselves? Oh, I can’t. And so I love saying what if you were to take the, I can’t find time for self-care to switch it to, how can I? How can I find 15 minutes in my day to take time for myself?

Rayna Neises: 

And I love those examples. Sometimes we think of self-care as being these big things we have to have to accomplish, but they’re what brings me joy. I love to read. Understanding that taking those few minutes to read that fiction book and escape to that world that isn’t mine. And I don’t have to solve all the problems in, that is self-care. It’s not, it’s not something somebody else says it is. And it’s something that brings me joy. I love that definition because it is so important when we make that shift. I think we could also find. That we might be doing things in our day that are actually self-care and we just haven’t called them that.

Nicole Dauz: 

That is such a great point.

Rayna Neises: 

So I want listeners to kind of stop and think about that. What are you doing every day that brings you joy and add that to your list of things that are self-care things. That you can bring in on another day when you actually have to be reminded to do something. I think sometimes when we know that we’re feeling stressed, we aren’t sure what to do. If we have that little list of things that bring us joy, we can say, Hey, should I pick up the phone and call my friends? Or could I watch that funny video and laugh a while? Just some of those things, having them on top of mind is hope.

Nicole Dauz: 

And what I think is really key is the reminder to try to do it daily. And so when I work with caregivers, like part of a self-care plan for me, are daily activities, weekly and monthly. Recognizing there are things, like for me my close friends are an important part of my life, so I need to connect with them weekly, not daily. And I want to see them in person at least once a month. But it’s highlighting. Almost like I know when I work with caregivers, it’s like, what are the different buckets in your life and building your plan around that. But I, I love what you were saying about asking caregivers to look at their day, because it also then reminds them that they are doing things well. And so often we’re kind of like, oh, sugar, I haven’t done this and I forgotten that, but they can go, oh, I’m already doing. I’m smarter than I thought. Like I’m already taking care of myself. And I just, hadn’t been given myself credit for it..

Rayna Neises: 

I think there are things like that. Now we might need more of them, but there are things hiding in our lives that we just need to shine a little flashlight on and celebrate that we’re doing a good job. So tell us the biggest challenge for you in managing your self care routine. You mentioned COVID, is there other things that you find?

Nicole Dauz: 

Yeah. I. I am guilty of like loving a good schedule and sticking to it and then resisting the change. I mean, the irony is 12 years after being a caregiver and I still resist change. But it’s the ebbs and flow. So for example so in starting Monday, I am a full-time caregiver again with my daughter for July and August, because we’re still, we’ve just come out of lockdown. There are no summer camps to send her to cause she does require one-on-one. So it’s not like an a regular summer camp. And so I am mentally prepping to say your day’s going to look very different than when she was in school. So, how am I going to manage my business? How am I going to manage being a full-time caregiver, being engaged and present? And then my self-care. So I’m currently re-evaluating and being really kind to myself that it may be a week or two of some unevenness or. Even a little resentment around like having right, hence, and even allowing myself to say this out loud, like being resentful that I have to look after my daughter. No, I’m really softening that and giving myself a lot of grace and compassion. And really my mindset is no, I get too. Aren’t I lucky that I get to spend the next two months just being there for her? And try not to have all of those shoulds. So that’s what I’m current like full transparency. That’s where I’m at right now with my, with my self-care and my mindset.

Rayna Neises: 

And I so agree, it seems like the changes, the bumps, whether it be the change in the health of the person that you’re caring for, or a shift in support, which is exactly what you’re talking about. You know, when we were caring for my dad, we had those caregivers we loved and some that didn’t work out so well and had changes in who was available and who was coming and all of those bumps. I found them challenging because they changed my routine and it seemed like my self-care would slip at that point. So the change in routine, I think, is something to be aware of. And so you’re doing that. You’re prepping yourself.

Nicole Dauz: 

Yeah.

Rayna Neises: 

This big changes coming so how am I going to keep myself on the radar?

Nicole Dauz: 

Yeah.

Rayna Neises: 

So that’s great prep work for yourself. So important. So Nicole, I love our conversation. I love that you are focused on the happiness piece. So is there one simple thing that you can share with our listeners that would help them on their road to happiness in the middle of the circumstance that they’re in right now?.

Nicole Dauz: 

Yes, choosing happiness, despite your circumstances. You know what, the one question that I asked myself and this is I think made the biggest difference in 2021 is how would love show up?

Rayna Neises: 

Yeah.

Nicole Dauz: 

Let me tell you, sometimes I will be on the sofa and I’ll be, I don’t care how love would show up, because I just want to feel the emotion. So I, I get it, but let me tell you when I embody that and let me see, force myself, but when I really embody that and repeat that question, how would love show up it, it has made the most beautiful difference in my life in 2021 and softened me because at the beginning of my caregiver journey, I believed, you know, the advocate, right. We’re always advocating for services and it’s almost like you needed to be like, put on your armor and be a little harsh and get ready. Right? It was like this. And for me, I realize now that my softness is my strength.

Rayna Neises: 

Okay.

Nicole Dauz: 

And so that’s what I really want to share with caregivers is regardless of how you’re feeling like we can’t control our emotions. Our emotions are simply letting us know how we’re feeling in the moment. And we need to acknowledge that. So when I feel anger, I’m like, oh, isn’t that interesting? And I allow myself, but then I’m like, okay, but how would love show up? Oh, I’m not going to judge myself for feeling anger. And those are the examples that I mean, or if my daughter is at the park, her favorite place. And she’s for whatever reason I say playing games. Cause that’s what she, she loves me so much. She loves to test me and then it’s like, okay, what would love to, okay. I’m going to remind myself that it’s not her fault in that her brain works differently. I’m not going to react. I’m not going to get upset. And so I think that. If we are able to catch ourselves and ask ourself that question, it can really make a difference in how we show up.

Rayna Neises: 

That’s a wonderful question. I had an experience that my husband kind of gave that to me as well Trying to put my dad to bed every night was one of the most difficult things. Some nights were really simple. Other nights were very, very difficult. And my husband challenged me and said, what would happen if you just wrapped him in a hug and told him that you loved him?. Well, of course my first response was, well, he would hit me. He would cuss at me, you know, he’s mad. It’s not going to go well.

Nicole Dauz: 

Okay.

Rayna Neises: 

And so I’m like, you just don’t get it. You’re not there. You’ve never done this before for real, you know, that was my honest reaction. So the next time I found myself in that place and dad was not cooperating and my frustration was rising. I heard my husband’s voice. So what would happen if you would just put your arms around him? Telling me, love it. What do I have to lose? You know, he’s, he’s mad at me anyway. Right. And I took that one to step in and just wrap my dad in the hug. And immediately he stiffened up and the anger came, but I just held him and I just reminded him. Daddy, I love you. I’m here to help you. It’s Okay. You’re safe. It’s Okay. I love you. And you know, it really took quite a while of me repeating that to him and just rubbing his back and engaging him with love and he relaxed into it and he reciprocated it. And the very next thing he said, once I stepped away was what do you need you? That question is such an important question because in the moments we aren’t thinking, that’s not our reaction, that’s not our feeling. Right. So I love how you said stopping and feeling the feeling and realizing it’s there, but actually just meeting it with what would love do. How can I show them love? And that will change everything. So such a great reminder. Thank you so much, Nicole.

Nicole Dauz: 

Oh, no, you’re welcome. And I just gonna say thank you for your beautiful share as well. That was very touching.

Rayna Neises: 

Thank you so much for joining us today. I know our listeners have gotten some wonderful tidbits of information, and I know that they can find you at your website. I’m sure you have lots of great content for them. Share with them how’s best to reach out to you and learn more about what you’re doing?

Nicole Dauz: 

Certainly. So my website is NicoleDauz.com. I say, keep it simple. My contact information is right there. So sign up for my weekly blog and feel free to, yeah, follow me. I’m also on Instagram at Nicole Dauz. You can message me. And I also on my website have a list of the services that I offer to support caregivers.

Rayna Neises: 

Okay. You again for being here today, it’s been a joy to meet you.

Nicole Dauz: 

Oh my pleasure. Thank you.

Rayna Neises: 

Just to remind listeners, A Season of Caring Podcast is created for the encouragement of family caregivers. If you have legal, financial, or medical questions, please consult your local professionals and take heart in your season of caring.

*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

Nicole Dauz

Nicole Dauz

Caregiver Coach & Self-care Advocate

Nicole Dauz is a caregiver coach and self-care advocate who chooses happiness despite her circumstances. She’s also the proud mother of a neurotypical son and a daughter with a rare genetic disease and autism.

Her mission is to change the story around caregiving and celebrate the journey. She honors the role of the caregiver by helping them recognize their worth and their true gifts.

As a self-care coach, experience is her teacher. Nicole’s clients come to her because they feel stressed to the max. She provides them the tools and strategies needed to shift them from feeling stressed and overwhelmed to regaining control of their lives and feeling gratitude and joy in their lives.

Your turn, share your thoughts . . .

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Meet Your Host

Rayna Neises, ACC

Author of No Regrets: Hope for Your Caregiving Season, ICF Certified Coach, Podcast Host & Speaker, offering encouragement, support, and resources to those who are in a Season of Caring for Aging Parents.

Her passion is for those caring and their parents, that they might be seen, not forgotten & cared for, not neglected

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