Your life as a family caregiver can get so packed with things to do and appointments that time can pass by quickly. Life can get tough both emotionally and physically day to day. Then you add in a dose of holidays, and it can get downright crazy.
I was a family caregiver, and I know that when people told me that I needed to better care for myself, especially at the holidays, I thought they were the one's losing it. I was doing the best I could and who has time anyway? Then when I realized I needed to be doing more and started to, it made such a big difference for me.
The saying goes; you cannot care for someone else if you are not caring for yourself first. It’s true, trust me. I depleted my 'well' as a family caregiver, and I know the mental and physical effect that has. There are many things that you can do that will help you along the way. Yes, perhaps more things to implement but they can make a positive impact for you.
Here are some ideas for you that I think will help:
1) To help take care of yourself emotionally and physically, get out for at least a 15-minute walk (1/2 - an hour preferable) at least three times a week:
If the weather doesn’t allow that, then try some simple stretching exercises or even better yet join a gym. The healing power of exercise on both your body and emotional health cannot be stressed enough. It can change your entire perspective!
2) Organize your documents:
You see those piles over there? No, really. Take a second look. When you are in the midst of a lot happening in your life, your peripheral vision picks up stacks of papers, dishes and laundry lying about, and it creates a vortex of mental clutter. Y’all I’m not kidding! Take time out every day to ensure you’ve created an open space free of clutter.
3) Have an old fashion calendar (not just the one on your phone):
You’d be surprised perhaps at how even younger people that I meet with these days are toting around an organizing calendar to keep track of things. Seeing a bigger picture of what’s happening for the month ahead allows you to organize your time better and set a clear agenda. Doing so can prevent additional stress.
4) Let people help:
This is a biggy. Friends and family often want/offer to help, but they are at a loss as to what to do. I had friends offer, but truth be told trying to figure out what to have them do was more stressful than doing it myself. Here’s a tip; when you're sitting down over morning coffee do what I call a ‘brain dump.' Write everything down that needs to be done and then start to prioritize, give it a schedule AND write peoples names by things to do. Literally, if it's going to the post office for stamps, put Sally’s name by it. If it’s getting to the store to look for new pants for your husband, schedule it on that new calendar you just bought.
The clutter in your head or your home creates more chaos than you need. Your life may already be plenty full of it. Do something for yourself to help ease that and watch the difference it can make for both you and your loved one.