Caregiving pulls at my energy, emotions and ability to think. I have never felt a greater need to be aware of taking care of myself.
The calendar is full of doctor appointments. This time, half of them are for me.
Each time life has opened a small window of free space, I find it quickly filled again.
Caregiving often chooses us. We do not have control over it. Balancing my personal care with the rest of the wants and needs in my life has become all the more challenging.
I feel fortunate to be a Life Coach and to have a conscious approach as to how I spend my energy.
Here are the concepts I feel are most important to me:
- Clearing my emotional space. I am learning to accept that life throws random challenges that we all must face. Letting go of the judgment of the situation and just living each day to the fullest preserves my mental energy.
- Awareness of getting enough sleep. What helps me feel restful? How and when can I replenish my energy?
- What do I value most in life? How can I still make time for what is most important and joyful to me? Yoga and choir are two of the very important activities for me. Time with family and friends and my coaching volunteer work give me energy and joy. While I have had to cut down the volume of my work, I find that remaining engaged frees my mind to just focus on feeling productive by doing something that I am passionate about.
- Create a calendar. I find it so helpful to write everything down all of the “to does” and the “want tos” and find a time for them even though the best laid plans may get changed. I am learning to be ok with change as well. The more we can let go of the uncontrollable events that come up, the freer we feel. I try my best to be flexible even when that see seems to go against my grain. That can be hard for me!When caregiving, we need to learn to know ourselves and become our own best advocate. Acknowledge yourself when the demands feel tough…pat yourself on the back for all that you do! We all need to feel appreciated.
- Create awareness around exercise. I make sure to find some outlet every day. Often times, we let ourselves put this on the back burner. A little exercise output leads to a much greater energy output. It is also a great stress buster! I find that even a small amount of intense cardio exercise helps me feel calmer and sleep better.
- Practice mindfulness. Learn about mindfulness and find a method that works for you. I find meditation practices like conscious breathing techniques that relax body and mind are also very useful when I want to set my “refresh” button.
- Brains like to have routines. It takes less energy. Allow yourself to maintain as many of them as possible.
- Worry can be exhausting. When thoughts arise ask yourself “what can I control” and let go of what you cannot do anything about. Mindfulness works well for me here.
- Look for ways to turn the “musts” into “want tos”. Think about the benefit of even the mundane activities so you can feel more energetic.
- Plan as many joyful activities as you can. Try to include as many social events as you can. Time is so precious!
What I notice as a caregiver is that I enjoy life’s pleasures more intensely and I appreciate the people around me who give support even more. Finding the beauty in life and living in the moment are what nourishes me each day.