Caregiver can be a difficult addition to an already stressful life. Sometimes it makes sense to change a few things in our own lives so we can be better able to help someone else, when needed. If you are like most people, you can use at least half of the following suggestions to smooth out some of the bumps in the road.
- Anxious and tense? Learn to use calming breaths to focus your thoughts in the moment and on your breathing. Here’s how: breathe in slowly, from your diaphragm to count of 7. Hold for 7 counts, and then breathe out completely to a count of 7. Do 7 complete breath cycles. Exercise regularly to keep feel good endorphin hormones coursing through your brain and to burn off stress hormone cortisol.
- Feel negative and pessimistic? Count your blessings and stop your negative self-talk with a reality check. For example: Instead of “No one ever listens to me,” consider, even make a list of where you are listened to: book group, you’re child’s school class, where you volunteer, your church group, your good friend, etc. See your thoughts for what they are, just thoughts, not necessarily reality.
- Have lots of feelings of anger? Anger is often a sign of fear of loss of power or control. Ask yourself what you’re afraid of losing power over; common areas are money and time. Are you creating worries in your mind about what might happen in the future? This a huge source of anxiety and anger for many people. Explore your angry thoughts, either on your own, or with professional help. Learn to still the negative voice in your head. See also # 1 above.
- Feel isolated? Make every effort to connect with people not related to work or your caregiving situation, at least 1x per week so you can nurture an existence apart from those environments and be with people who have other things to talk about.
- Worn-out or exhausted in mind and spirit? If you think you are not making any progress up your mountain, take time each day or week to review what you have done, no matter how small. Write it down in a journal, so you can look back and see actual things you have done. Connect with someone, (#4 above) and have an appreciation society—talk about what each of you has done. Express appreciation and receive it. Celebrate yourself, too, with good rewards like a yoga class, or a meditation session.
- Feel like you are often in conflict with others around you? This can be related to anger and negative self-talk, so focus on changing your actions and thoughts. Treat others as you wish to be treated. Practice listening skills and carefully consider your responses and how others might perceive them. Getting along with others is essential to your own well being, at the very least.
- Harried, rushed, and usually late? Consider why are you late? Do you need to estimate time better, become more organized, or do not really want to go? Do what you need to do to address this, so you can remove this unnecessary stressor from your life.
Many of the above points dovetail nicely with the Serenity Prayer: “Help me change the things I can change, accept the ones I cannot change, and have the wisdom to know the difference.” Practice this philosophy and feel your calm grow. Caregiving can take a lot out of you; be sure you have deep reserves. Find out about available help.
Inspired by an article on “It Ends with You: Grow up and Out of Dysfunction.”
Lee Nyberg serves seniors through her company,Home Care Assistance. Home Care Assistance is North America’s premier provider of in-home care for seniors. Our mission is to change the way the world ages. We provide older adults with the help and care that enables them to live happier, healthier lives at home. Our services are distinguished by the caliber of our caregivers, the responsiveness of our staff and our expertise in Live-In care. We embrace a positive, balanced approach to aging centered on the evolving needs of older adults. For more information about Home Care Assistance in Lincoln, visit HomeCareAssistanceLincoln.com or in Omaha, visit HomeCareAssistanceOmaha.com. Or call 402-261-5158.