Caregiver, please don’t make this mistake. If you are already making it…it’s time to course correct it. It’s never too late to start.
There is a big common myth among caregivers. Caregivers believe that they are supposed to give and give everything they have to those that they care for. Caregivers usually feel guilty if they don’t do this. They believe if they aren’t 100% focused on the person they are caring for then they aren’t doing enough.
Analogies to get your attention
If you were a hearty steak and potato dinner, there would be only so much of you for every one to consume before there was no food left. We need food to survive. Eventually, your house guests will get hungry again and you’ll either have to whip up something else or head to the store for more food.
You have a big heart. If you also had a surplus of extra cash for charity, there would only be so much good you could do before you’d have to return to work or acquire donors for your cause to earn more cash so you could go out and do more good.
If you were a full tank of gas there would be only so many places you could go before you’d run out of gas and need to stop for a refill.As I meet Caregivers, I picture an internal gauge over their heads. This gauge looks like a battery indicator and it shows how close to empty your caregiving supply is.
Your gauge shows green if you are a generally happy and healthy Caregiver and making the best of a tough situation.
Your gauge shows red if you are looking depleted, complaining, sharing excuses, and not seeking ways to recharge.
It’s not an all or nothing gauge, there are levels in between. What really breaks my heart is a flashing light that indicates ‘burned out!’! This gauge isn’t a judgement, its just a warning light and a sign that this person needs encouragement to hear this message and a little prayer to see the light.
Are you ready for the road trip?
Caregiver, self-care is not selfish, it’s necessary. It’s vital because there is only a finite supply of caregiving energy before it runs out. Do you know how long your caregiving journey will last? Chances are you don’t.
How would you pack for a road trip where you didn’t necessarily know how long you’d be gone or even all the places you are going? How much money would you need? Where are you going to get the resources you need to make the trip? Planning for this would be difficult! You might even say stressful and overwhelming!
Anticipating what you are going to encounter and what tools and resources you are going to need in your caregiving journey is also difficult, stressful, and overwhelming.
So what do you do?
Assemble a Caregiver Toolkit Before You Need It
You pack your Caregiver toolkit full of energy and just in case supplies so you are ready for anything. You set yourself up for success on a daily basis ready for the road trip of the day.
How do you do this?
Sustain your energy by getting the sleep you require and by eating whole foods as much as you possibly can. You take vitamins and supplements to optimize your health. Seek out natural energy sources and incorporate these habits. This allows you to be ready for a tough days like an emergency trip to the hospital or an unexpected mess at the house.
Set aside a few minutes to breathe and chill when you can by using meditation techniques. This teaches you how to breathe and relax during anxious times.
Continue to connect with people in your circles. You will need this support system when the pitfalls occur to pull you back up to level ground.
You also expand your circle by taking the initiative by reaching out to people who have taken this journey before. Three options that I offer to connect and gain support from other caregivers are the public Happy Healthy Caregiver Facebook Group, the private Happy Healthy Caregiver Community, and my local Daughterhood Circle meetups.
When you exercise regularly, you will be ready to face for the onslaught of colds and diseases that we are faced with daily and to prolong or prevent others that we love from having to care for us sooner than expected. Exercise is also a great outlet to tap into when you need to release pent up frustration and angst.
Maybe you aren’t a caregiver yet. Whether you are or not, build your toolkit now. Be ready for the journey. Anticipate that life has peaks and valleys and we don’t know where the road ahead will be taking us.
Be ready. Start your journey with a full tank of gas and know where the filling stations are to recharge and replenish.
The first step to incorporating any new healthy habit you need to adopt is to identify where in your day or your week you are going to pay your health first. Click here for my ‘Help! I need more ME time’ tool to show you exactly how to do this. I developed this tool for you by mentally stepping through what I did to find the time to exercise, eat better, gain sleep that I needed…while working full-time, caring for my mom, and raising my children. You got this!