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Hi, everyone, I have been on this site for several years and have gotten great info concerning my 91-year-old mom with dementia. I live about 3 miles away and do about 22 hours a week of care at my mom's. She is doing OK, but I see deterioration. Also, every visit is an adventure as I'm sure many of you know. My question: When you are in this negative atmosphere, how do you flip the switch when you leave to resume your regular life/day/hopefully positive attitude. When I leave, I sometimes feel like the cartoon character literally flooring it down the street. Literally like an escape. Sometimes I feel like I figuratively have to take a shower to wash away the toxicity. Yes, I know all about the things like read, take a bubble bath. I guess I am looking for some kind of quick mental cue or switch that I can use, that takes maybe 30 seconds, and that allows me to go food shopping or exercise or whatever in my normally positive framework.

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Thanks, LibertyBlue, for the great response. I just now uploaded an app to my phone and am going to try this out.
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I have a Tibetan singing bowl at home. After a while, bathing in the vibrations became a release trigger. Now I have one on an app in my phone. Release anywhere. I set it to go off random a few times a day as an extra reminder to just breathe - through anything. A simple bell, chime, or less simple gong, church bells work great, too. All should have an app for sound.
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I am living with my husband who has Vasular Cognitive Impairment and what helps me when I want to "leave", is rereading my list of what I enjoy doing. As I read that list again and again I am reminded of that there are lots of things I like to do, and then I can usually pick out one or two things that I can do sometime in what is left of the day for me.
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I take a walk everyday by my favorite shopping center eating chocolate, and then enjoy a cigarrete. I forcé myself to think only in me and my life in that space of time. It gives me some relief everyday and it´s cheap.
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You guys!!! I just read another page of great comments. Such good ideas. Thank you for taking the time to respond. You don't know how helpful your suggestions are. Windyridge, good for you and your wife to set up your man-woman cave and exercise no matter what the weather. I am from Michigan originally (lower Michigan!) and am well familiar with the weather. Have lived in Phoenix more than half my life; I use the "It's cold" excuse not to exercise...when it goes down to 60 degrees!!! LOL. Thanks, all.
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RE: LA Fitness. Thanks, Clegdog. You make a great point. I'm making you my fitness coach!! :)
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The trick that works for me is to replace unwanted thought with wanted thoughts. For example, if some jerk cuts me off on the road and gets my bp up, I try (not always) to think of another time when a nice motorist yielded to me and gave me right of way or let me pass first.

So, maybe for a quick fix, you can keep on your phone some pictures of your children or spouse or pets, or your garden, anything that is positive and look at them when you're in the car before going home. A picture is worth a 1000 words as the saying goes. Think about what you are going to do with the people/pets/things in the pictures when you get home. Hopefully, those thoughts and images will chase away the ones you don't want at your mom's place.

Barbrooklyn- audio books are great. They take me to another place right away. My kids and I love to listen to stories when we drive around.
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Jan, my mom was in a NH 75 mikes from me. I found stopping for ice cream and sitting in the car eating it to be a "reset" for me. Also, books on tape. ((((((Hugs)))))))
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I very recently came across a tapping "trick" to ease anxiety and I've been doing it a few times a day for past couple of days. It's called Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) - Tapping Solution. Weird name, even weirder practice, but it seems to be helping me... so there's that. I also do deep breathing exercises when I need to "bring it down a notch" within my body/brain.

I tend to be a stress pot anyway, after a lifetime of anxiety-inducing situations and inundation with dysfunctional caregiving situation for past 6-7 years, and I have some lingering issues with high cortisol causing problems with my sleep, causing tension headaches, etc.

The deep breathing is a great tool because it's something you can do anywhere, anytime for on-the-spot physical state change up. I was surprised to learn about this tapping technique and it seems so... bizarre... but it does have an affect of pretty instantly calming any headaches or intense feelings I'm having. You might look it up and try it when you're ready to change states from being "ON" to turning things "OFF" for the day.
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To expand on the shoes - have a couple of sets of 'work' clothes at your mom's place change into them when you get there & back to your own clothes when you leave with the shoes - like a uniform it is left at 'work' - I'd try to wash your hands at same time & apply a nice hand lotion & fresh lipstick to 'become the home me' then leave the 'work for mom me' there
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The power of prayer. Say "I give my load to YOU, DEAR HEAVENLY FATHER" and then let it rest. You will be surprised when it works.
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I used to have a two hour drive to decompress but now that I moved my mom to my city it's only ten minutes. So when I pull away from the Memory Care parking lot I do a lot of deep breathing and loud music. Preferably the oldies station. Once home it's change into sweats (because you never know what's on the chair you sat on in the activity room) then a glass of wine and a sit com. Humor is the best medicine for my bad state of mind. I agree that that changing shoes/clothes is a reset.
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Booze and drugs are great, but exercise is the best. We live in northern Michigan and currently have an icy layer of snow about a foot thick. When snow is good we cross country ski and snowshoe. But we have lots of grey, windy and just crappy days in winter.

A while back I set up a sort of man cave in my basement, old easy chairs, tool bench, my guitars and amps and my old 70s stereo system and records. And a tv of course.

The wife and I both have bad feet and ankles, mine from a mis spent youth playing football, hers from getting stomped on by her damn horses. So we can bike in summer or snowshoe in winter but hiking is no good.

We got a schwinn air dyne bike about a month ago. It cost stupid money but is very well made, easy to adjust for our different sizes (5 ft 5 to 6 ft 4) it does upper and lower body, and I stuck it in the basement man cave. Man/Women cave now...I guess....

Set up headphones on tv and stereo so we can rock out or watch tv without bothering the one upstairs. 30 minutes or so is a great workout. You can go old guy/old lady speed or feel the burn and all that.

Really helps with the winter blues and is good for right after a weepy phone call with my mom in AL. Money well spent for us.
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tornadojan, perhaps changing the mind set to "get to" rather than "to do". Now I "get" to go to LA Fitness. Great stress reliever!
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I like the tree analogy! Kind of "give it to God" in it's simplicity.
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All great comments - just looking for that "quick" fix. Windyridge, my drink of choice is a Shock Top or margarita for a quick, guaranteed to work, fix. But I don't want to go down that road big time. Kind of expensive - and bad for the waistline. What I really need to do is drive down the road to LA Fitness. But it is hard to add that one more "to do" (even though beneficial) to the list after getting beat up mentally (and sometimes physically being spent). Love, love the tree idea. Will give it a shot.
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I had that problem yesterday after a long day at Mom's followed by a weepy (on her part) phone call about an hour after I got home. I found that immersing myself in a good book helped me put the day behind me and ease into a more peaceful nighttime. I called Mom this morning, and she's actually feeling more optimistic, so it was good that I didn't spend the whole night fretting over her.
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Similar to the shoe idea. I read a story about a man that every night when he got home from work would stop at the tree along is walkway. When asked what he was doing every night he responded that he was hanging up all the worries and stress of the workday so that once he entered his house he did not bring any of that negativity with him into his home.

Maybe I was fortunate that my mother lived over an hour away and I had the time to decompress in my car on my drive home after spending each weekend with her. I tried to leave early enough so I could maybe stop and see my in-laws along the way or do a little shopping. I varied my route so I could see different things. If I was still in taking care of mom mode when I got closer to home I just drove around a bit more or found a scenic spot to get out of the car and relax with nature for a bit.
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2 oz of good vodka over 3 medium ice cubes . Lotsa folks like reefer. I never could handle the stuff.
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These are great comments - thank you all. Love the shoe idea, Dorianne. SnoopyLove, I have heard about tapping. Will check that out. DianaHollis, you are so right. My home is my refuge at the moment. Sometimes after flooring it down the street - :) - I go home, run in the door, slam it behind me, and just say, Thank God I'm home.
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I’ve known about meditation for about twenty years. I learned it as my own health began to go down hill. Meditation can decrease pain by 50%, slow heart rate and lower blood pressure. I can meditate while getting out patient procedures on my back without screaming and being upset! But even meditation fails me when I’m with my parents. So I cry, curse and scream a bit while driving away and then slide into a happier but tired person frame of mind.

It might be my own fragile health but I’m exhausted after even talking on the phone with them so I settle for a quiet mindset and sleep for a couple days. In MY bed and in my house. Only my husband and I and our 15 year old cat live here. No arguing and no anger!!!
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I like the shoe idea! Maybe another "cue" that might help you switch out of caregiving/crisis mode is always turning on a favorite CD in the car as you speed away. Maybe a good driving song like "Born to Be Wild" or "Freeway of Love" or "I Can't Drive 55"? ;)

Also you could look into EFT or "tapping", where you do kind of a brief self-acupressure to shift out of less helpful emotional states. Lots of videos about it on YouTube.
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A friend of mine, who worked in a rape crisis center for many years, had a trick where she kept a pair of shoes at work. (I remember them - a pair of black leather penny loafers.) She wore them ONLY at work. As soon as she changed out of those shoes at the end of the work day, she left the job behind with them (the shoes stayed in her office). 

I suppose it was a symbolic switch. But I'd guess there's also a subtly different feeling in your feet, as you go about your business, that might help remind you....or help you forget!
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