Recently I’ve been confronted with what feels like overwhelming challenges related to increasing health complications of several family members. I’ve equated this experience to being in the “eye of the storm”. The dictionary’s definition of the “eye of the storm” as “The circular area of relative calm at the center of a cyclone” and eloquently defines my experience.
People I love are getting bad news from the doctor “the cancer is back”, others are struggling to gain strength after undergoing life-changing surgery only to find that it was not successful in removing all the disease. Though these things aren’t happening directly to me, as a caregiver I am just as affected as the person with the disease. Notwithstanding my caregiving duties, I exert a great deal of energy exploring new opportunities to expand my business, assisting my husband in ministry and attempting to stay connected with my support system.
However; lately my focus is almost exclusive to assisting those with health issues as they have the most pressing need: attending doctor appointments, managing in-patient care, coordinating after-care and finding myself saying “yes” to everything requested of me, however; in doing so I have done a great disservice to myself and those around me. I’m so caught up in circumstances over which I have, that I have contributed to the “storm system” through my frustration, fear and anxiety, as well as my overwhelming need to help with “everything”.
As someone who has spent her life supporting family caregivers along their journeys, I am well aware of the irony of my situation. Luckily I have people around me who, at times, tongue in cheek, will refer to a blog I wrote. They have gone as far as to print them out, highlight areas and send them to me as a reminder that I need to make self-care a priority in order to better assist those around me (see Change Your Priorities)
Today’s tips are from a blog I wrote last year and serve as a pertinent reminder to me and my readers (see The Fundamental Rule of Caregiving)
- Schedule time DAILY to take care of yourself (and stick to the schedule) – start out small and then increase the time each week (ex – 10 minutes of quiet time before bed – ½ hour walk after dinner)
- Enlist support – share with those around you that your scheduled time needs to be respected and supported.
- Set boundaries – this can include scheduled visiting days/times with your elderly loved one (not every day), specific days of the week that the kids can have their friends over or go to a friend’s house.
- Schedule a physical – this should be done ANNUALLY. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it!
Doing these things won’t change the circumstances. People will still be struggling with diseases. Doctor appointments will still need to be attended and the storms of life will still need to be faced. However, by making self-care a priority, it will allow you the strength to face the storms in a more purposeful way.