Remembering to Play

By Family Caregivers' Network Society

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Caregiving is both emotionally and physically demanding. Caregivers typically ignore their own needs and focus their attention and energy on the care recipient. They let go of activities, hobbies and interests that are joyful and energizing for them. Even spending time with friends can be forgotten. This unbalance can lead to burnout and impacts the amount and quality of care that the caregiver can provide. To avoid this, it is essential for family caregivers to remember to take time for themselves, to have fun and remember to play.

Life Coach Vince Gowmon’s “work” is to help others bring more play, lightness and joy into their lives. On May 14th in Victoria, Vince will facilitate an interactive workshop that focuses on play, creativity and self-care to help the Family Caregivers’ Network celebrate Family Caregivers Week in B.C., May 8-14. Vince helps family caregivers recognize how play is a cornerstone to effective caregiving because it reminds caregivers to embrace self-care and levity. Play can help enhance the relationship between the caregiver and the care recipient when time is taken to initiate fun activities, respond in a more playful way and change up the “usual routine.”

Vince views play as a lifestyle choice rather than simply a series of activities. It means creating a more open life with a “Yes, and” attitude (open to possibilities) rather than creating blocks with a “Yes, but” attitude (excuses and limitations). It involves being flexible and receptive to what life brings.

Many people were raised to live life the “the right way” - work hard, live by a lot of shoulds and musts and use the logical side of their brain only. We stop being spontaneous, lose our creativity and don’t trust our intuition when making choices or decisions.

Family caregivers are used to putting everyone else first and getting lost in the demands of caregiving. Then they burn out. Remembering to play gives caregivers an opportunity to refill their cup on a regular basis. Bringing more joy and lightness into the caregiving situation has a positive impact on both the caregiver and the person receiving care. There are proven physiological benefits to play and laughter, such as stress reduction, lowered blood pressure, a boosted immune system and improved brain function.

Vince encourages family caregivers to ask themselves the following questions:

Where might you initiate more joy and playfulness in your life and when caregiving?

What is it you love to do, but don’t make time for anymore? What energizes you?

When the person you are caring for becomes playful or joking, do you play along? Can you see some of the humour in your situation?

How might you do things differently, if you saw your care recipient as a creative and resourceful person and you began “caring with” them rather than “caring for” them?

So laugh, have more fun and remember playing isn’t just for kids. If you want to join Vince on May 14th, call the Family Caregivers’ Network Society at 250-384-0408 or visit

Next month: Travel Tips for Family Caregivers




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