the following information comes from this talk:
To summarize this fascinating talk as briefly as possible requires a short medical lesson. Bear with me!
At the end of our chromosomes (the strands that make up DNA) are telomeres. A telomere is a sequence of repetitive nucleotides that keep the chromosome intact)
Without telomeres the strand of DNA would unwind and become unstable. Telomeres are long when we are born and shorten over time. This is one of the key factors of aging and disease.
Without a telomere our DNA would “unravel” causing whatever cell that happens to be to malfunction.
It has been found that caregivers of chronically ill babies have shortened telomeres. They are prematurely shortened by up to ten years!
Even though they rate mortality by different diseases, I always thought it strange that the focus wasn’t on stress. Stress really is the number one killer. What does it matter if it’s cancer or heart disease or something else? You’ll be dead as a result of any of them which are all ultimately caused by some form of stress. Stress on the body…perhaps from the mind.
For example: Instead of focusing on lowering cholesterol by restricting what we eat, if one focuses on stress- relief and being happy I believe the body will reduce its own cholesterol.** I will be posting a lot more about this with links and resources in the future.
I’m trying to post encouragement and ideas for stress relief in this blog for caregivers of all kinds as well as parents of medically complex children. If you read the above text about caregiving, you might realize that we all do more caregiving than we realize. Having a family is caregiving. Looking in on your neighbor is caregiving. Running errands for elderly parents is caregiving. You might be caring for one medically complex child or caregiving for a lot of different people.
The rest of the talk is also interesting and goes into the importance of having someone to talk with for stress reduction. People who hold it all in suffer from shorter telomeres than people who share their feelings. Even when they both have similar situations, the ones who share their feelings are healthier in this way.
Please remember to take care of yourselves. Your own life depends on it. As a caregiver for seriously ill children, I have to consciously make efforts to incorporate stress relief into my daily life. I’ll be sharing a bunch of tips with you in these blog posts. I do hope this is an eye- opener though and really emphasizes the importance of self-care. I am one who is learning self-care later in life. After years of being a “giver” and feeling like a bad person if I wasn’t, my life is changing for the better. I’m getting back to true health slowly. Not just physical but mental, emotional, spiritual, family, relationships, work and total overall health.
Self-care is something I wish I’d learned about a long time ago. My hope is to help others become aware of its importance.
May you be happy and well!
**I am not a medical doctor and do not diagnose or prescribe. These are my opinions only. Please see and follow your own physician’s advice, do your own research and form a conclusion for a treatment plan that is right for you.