From one thing to the next
Our schedules are never the same. As caregivers we may wake up at 7AM or 10AM. Some of us wake up throughout the night to check on our loved one for various reasons; they need help rolling over, machines are ringing, bathroom breaks are needed, aches and pain need attention, etc. We rise, exhausted from the night before, to our loved ones now needing medications and/or supplements upon opening their eyes.
Breakfast is made, teeth brushed, body washed, hair brushed, nails done, and whatever else their nibs requires for the day to feel their wonderful selves. In the midst of the sleepy-eyed labors, we manage to make ourselves a cup of tea, or coffee if you prefer, only to come back to it, cold. This doesn’t stop us from chugging it before going on to the next task.
Finding the strength to keep going
The rest of the day seems to mirror the morning, just to rise and do it all over again tomorrow with no complaint. Love calls and we answer. Seeing our loved one in need forces us to grab a hold of something deep within that gives us a little more fuel for the next day. Prayers are said, forehead kisses, lights out.
Our fuel builds us up and we burn it all on someone else. When do we stop to give care to ourselves? Does guilt prohibit us from taking a moment to enjoy peace?
With 24 hours in a day, are we really consumed so much by caregiving that giving self-care is unattainable?
Stop right where you are. Just inhale and hold it in a few seconds. Then, exhale and let it out for a few seconds. Repeat this process until your jaw unlocks and your teeth are no longer clenched. Let your shoulders lower from your ears and let your upper back begin to relax. Now, doesn’t that feel better? That’s self-care.
It took 19 years for me to comprehend that it was okay to cry sometimes. It is okay to not want to and care-give 24/7. It is okay for me to vent, scream in a pillow or just sit with tears falling from my face asking God, “When Lord?” When will my body feel the relief of muscles that no longer aches and a body that get’s a good nights sleep? When will my loved one’s sufferings end?
Stress built up over years will beat upon your adrenal glands like Sugar Ray in Round 1 of a fight. Eventually the body gives in and we feel the effects. We’re touchy at times. Moody. Ready to snap our teeth at the next nurse or doctor that changes our protocol – you know, the one that works? We cry easily and our body aches. Changes have to happen or we will find ourselves in need of a caregiver.
Make little changes to self-care, like these:
- Go into a quiet room, even if it’s the bathroom, close your eyes and give yourself 10 minutes to just breathe
- Add some epsom salt and essential oil to your bath water
- Skin brushing – it gets the lymph nodes moving
- Foot soak
- Treat yourself to a mani/pedi if you can steel away for an hour
- How about a 30 minute massage?
- Iced drink and a good book – even if it’s a few pages a day
- Eat a healthy meal
- Call a friend that you know will bring laughter to the conversation
- Write a few snail-mail letters
- Take a short walk
- Blow bubbles. I know… sounds weird right? I added bubbles to a care package for a friend and she called me laughing while enjoying her bubbles. Kid at heart, yes?
I’d love to see what you would add to the list!
Whatever it is, please take a moment in a day to self-care. It is vital to your overall health and vitality. It will help you to maintain a more positive attitude and deal with stress a little better. Our loved ones will definitely see a difference and may ask for some of those self-care tips.
Energy? What’s that? I feel like a perpetual zombie.
I agree with all of your comments, we just do it. Love has no boundaries.
By trusting that God will give you the strength you need to go forward. ✝
I have to keep reminding myself that the struggle is temporary. That’s hard to keep up because days turn to weeks that turn into months that are now turning into years. I’m not a quitter and never was…
Being a caregiver you get used to just operating on constant exhaustion.
We have no other choice most times.
Very familiar with “survival mode.” We just try our best to do the next right thing. Caregiving sure isn’t for pansies. I have had to start taking better care of myself over the past year.
By putting one foot in front of the other.
Gardening is a hopeful thing to do, and a faithful thing to put your hands to. … I tend to feel very unhopeful about a mani/pedi as a stress-buster, but I like your advice on taking a walk, meditating (I call it prayer), and journaling. The only thing I would add is that it’s important to have someone supportive in your life, for prayer and for Bible study, no matter whether that supportive person or group is able to help your or your family’s day-to-day, or not.
Thanks for the wonderful suggestions. I take me time by listening to nature sounds for 10 minutes a day. I practice deep breathing and it helps so very much. I love being a caregiver, I feel it is my purpose in life !
Love this site! It has helped me a lot! I feel bad when I need me time!
And, it is okay to cry.
My hubby and I live with my father who has Parkinsons and dementia. We all have separate bedrooms. I love having my very own space. Decorated how I want, with girly smells, soft pillows and blankets, plants and other treasures. I don’t think I could keep my sanity without this space.
Ty. Ben doing this for 2 years now with hubby. We do home pd for 12 hours a day. Kidney dialysis. Hospital st as ys,dr visits. Etc. I allways try to get up 2 hours before him for me time….thanks
Great article! I always feel guilty getting out, like I’m not supposed to!
Thanks.. All around supportive!!!
Thanks so much, have pinned this. Lots of helps in here…
My goal this week was to walk every day. So far I managed a lunchtime walk on Monday, Tuesday and today. Just 20-30 minutes and I feel refreshed, especially when I’m outside with the wind and sun on my face and looking at nature. Today, I saw two chipmunks, a rabbit and 2 or 3 deer. 🙂 It allows me time to walk off some of my preoccupations and I tend to sleep better at night.