Seven Tips For Caregivers To Live A Better Life In 2016
Happy New Year everyone! We’re two days into 2016, and I’m so excited. I’m excited about the promise the year is going to bring. I know that sounds like the typical thing someone would be saying two days into the New Year. But, I’m truly expecting 2016 to be amazing. I’m making a conscious effort to leave fear, crazy, bitterness in the rearview of last year, and here’s some tips to help you join me.
But, first a quick disclaimer; I don’t have all of the answers. I wish I had this “caregiving thing” locked down. But, I don’t proclaim to be an expert. I’m just a caregiver who’s been caring for her mom and sister for a combined fifteen years. So, I’m letting my “battle wounds” stand as my “street cred” . So, here are some of the top tips I’ve learned.
- It’s okay to hate being a caregiver: Stop punishing yourself for not liking the “caregiver” life. Caregiving is an amazingly selfless thing to do. It can be beautiful & cathartic. But, it can also really suck. The hours are incredibly long, and the pay is non-existent. So, it’s ok that everyday is not rainbows and roses.
- Sleep is a powerful friend: You have to rest. You have to find time to lay down uninterrupted and sleep. When you’re depriving your body of rest, you’re depriving your family of the best of you. Plus, it’s easier to be “snappy when you’re feeling crappy” (Sorry about the cheesy rhyme. But, it’s the truth).
- You need a hobby: Find something that you love doing and do it. You need an outlet that doesn’t involve your family or the person you’re taking care of. You’re not just a caregiver; you’re a person with needs and wants. So do something for you. Even if it’s a small thing. Just do it!
- Guilt is the devil: Stop beating yourself up about everything. You’re a human being, so you’re going to make mistakes. Things are not going to get done. But, people still lived. So, cut yourself some slack.
- Dream Big: Have some thoughts and goals that exist beyond being a caregiver. Caregiving is not a permanent state of being. So, you have to be able to envision your life beyond this time. Think about what you want to do, and make a plan to do it. Dreaming won’t make you bitter because you’re not doing it now. Dreaming will remind you that there is a life after caregiving, and that you need to do everything possible on your end to be ready to live it.
- Prayer changes things: I’m sure you’ve heard that before, and probably already have a pretty strong relationship with God. But, just on the off chance that you may not be praying that often or ever. Praying really can help clear your mind and calm you down in moments of frustration. There is no better listener or comforter.
- Stop living in the shadows: As caregivers, we rarely talk about our challenges with anyone. We’ve always got our “superhero capes” on ready to leap the “caregiving woes” while appearing like we’ve got it all together to the rest of the world. We don’t think anyone cares about what we’re going through, and we’re too proud to tell them that we’re suffering.
But, we have to stop doing that. Talking about it educates others on our challenges, and frames better what they can do to help us. Sharing doesn’t make you weak. It makes you smart; because you could be setting yourself up for a blessing you need.
So, that’s all I got right now . There are so many other things that are going to contribute to us living our best lives. But, it all starts with us. So, hopefully these will get you started. I have plans to share other things too. But, please tell me if there is a particular area of struggle you need information on. We’re going to do this together. Until we meet again.