A guest post written by Beth Phillips, blogger and Happy Healthy Caregiver Community member
As caregivers, we are vulnerable to stress, exhaustion, anxiety and a variety of other factors that can lead to depression and other types of illness. We know that paying attention to our own health and happiness will give us the energy to care for others but it’s hard to find the time or energy when there are so many other things on our plates.
Lucky for us, there’s a lot of new science on happiness and it’s role in success, productivity and high performance. Even better, researchers have identified simple practices to increase happiness. Many of them can be executed in less than three minutes a day and the tangible, physical and emotional benefits can be realized in less than a month, if practiced consistently. (more…)
Each month, I have a one-on-one interview with a caregiver in the Happy Healthy Caregiver Community. I call each of these recorded conversations a ‘Caregiver Spotlight’. I started these because each caregiver journey is unique and I know every time I talk to another caregiver I learn something new and I leave that conversation knowing I’m not alone and feel a little bit stronger.
Beth lives in Pittsburgh, PA area and has been caring for her 80 year old elderly aunt in her home for almost 2 years. Beth has four teenagers and says she is married to ‘one of the nicest people she’s ever met’. Beth enjoys running and writing about interesting things on her ‘Being Home‘ blog.
Beth’s mother lives across the street which she says played a huge part in allowing herself to even consider taking this primary caregiver role on in the first place. In addition to her mom, Beth has lots of local support including her cousin and a doctor neighbor who willingly makes house calls.
Beth is also grateful Aunt Linda is overall pleasant, in spite of her progressing dementia and other ailments, including diabetes. (more…)
Have you created a bucket list? In this post, I’m going to share mine with you. It’s my ’50 before 50′ bucket list.
So often I see caregivers put aside all their own dreams and goals in order to care for others. I know their heart is in the right place when they make this either conscious or subconscious choice. We all have to do this from time to time in an urgent short-term situation. Caregiving is a marathon not a sprint. There is no way to know as caregivers how much energy we need to sustain and how much damage we are doing to our own physical and mental health by pushing this aside until ‘later’ or ‘someday’.
What do you give a caregiver to show them you care and are thinking about them? What they really want is more time and available hands to call when they are needed . But in our society where the demand of our time far surpasses the supply, it’s a struggle to be that helper we want to be to those caregivers we love. Often times, I have heard the phrase, ‘Please let me know how I can help.’ I never even knew how to reply to that statement. It may be well meaning but it’s not actionable. Being a caregiver is tough stuff. Often times caregiving is emotional draining and physically straining. There are usually no warning signs when a caregiving crisis is approaching. It’s reactive, urgent, and stressful. We don’t know when or if things will improve and often times we know that our situation will probably get worse before it gets better . When a loved one has a disease or a chronic illness, the whole family is impacted in some way. As caregivers, we all have those days, weeks, or even months when we feel like we are on a treadmill and no matter how hard we try to stay on top of it, the plates and pieces we are juggling fall and it feels like no matter how much we give it’s never enough.
I think a gift that continues to remind an overwhelmed caregiver that they are enough is a great gift.
My Spotify workout playlist is constantly a work in progress. I know for my music to continue to motivate me and keep me moving, I need to keep my workout playlist fresh and fun. Music is a must for me during a workout because:
It offers a distraction – I forget how hard I’m working or how long I’ve been exercising
It makes me exercise to the beat! I try to add songs to my workout playlist that have between 120 and 140 beats per minute.
It speaks to my soul! I love songs about getting stronger, achieving greatness, and being happy.
Since we are all caregivers interested in achieving greater health and happiness, I am sharing ten of my favorite songs in each of these areas – happiness and health.
For many of us, ‘the holidays’ can simply mean we have even more to do than normal and the last thing any family caregiver needs is one more item on their to do list. As the holidays grow near, I find myself reminiscing about my childhood holidays, reflecting on those simpler days when we mainly just got to show up and enjoy the fun. I am very grateful for the wonderful family holiday memories I have. As an adult, I realize that it was primarily my mom that worked so hard to make holidays special for us. She trimmed every corner of the house, planned and prepared every meal, and shopped and wrapped for every gift (including Santa gifts and stocking stuffers!). We would have ‘stacks’ of presents beautifully tied with ribbons and all six of us would have the same amount of gifts to open. I have just two kids and it’s difficult to ensure that everything is fair and equal. I’m sure my mom and dad collaborated on the budget but I’m also fairly certain that my mom went over budget every year. Let’s just say I also have some memories of my dad paying the bills in January.
My healthy me time takes place first thing in the morning usually before 5:30 am…I often sneak out of the house when all (except Shadow) are still fast asleep. I find it’s easier to just get up and go before the day really begins for others. I love the saying ‘seize the day before the day seizes you’.
Because I’m up and out early to head to the gym, I need portable breakfast options that I can either prep on Sundays for the entire work week or gather together the night before. Here are a few of my tried and true breakfast options.(more…)
Early in our marriage, may be even before we were married, Jason and I had agreed that we would always use some of our time off to have our own vacation. Coming from a big family, there are always events and family reunions to attend but it was important to us that we set aside focused family time together each year. Before our children were part of our lives, we took some special trips to New York City, California and Grand Cayman. Not to mention our honeymoon in Bermuda.
Traveling with young children
Once we had our children our vacations primarily centered on trips to visit family. Every summer, we have been to our family cabin in Hubbard Lake, Michigan and there have been several visits to Florida, Pennsylvania, Phoenix, and Washington D.C. areas to see my parents and our siblings. One exception to the normal trips is when we jumped on an opportunity when Natalie was 10 months old to go see my sister Susie and her family in Botley, England. Her husband Dave was there for a 2 year assignment and it was Susie’s 40th birthday and we were missing their 4 kids since they had moved away. They had been in England long enough to show us all the local sites they loved. Susie kept Natalie one day when we visited so Jason and I could take the train into London for a day on our own.
Our first big international trip as a family was BIG! In June 2007, the four of us went to Bali, Indonesia. (more…)
Growing up, I never pictured myself as a working mom. I knew I would work before having kids but figured I’d be a stay home mom, just like my mom was for us. I know my husband may feel somewhat responsible for me not being a stay home mom but frankly he’s not the reason I am still working.
What is a sequencing mom?
A “sequencing” mom typically earns a college degree, starts a career, and decides to take a planned break
from the workforce in order to raise young children and then returns to their careers years later.(more…)