Caregiving is a job you’ll often find yourself hating. Yet it’s also a job that very few feel they can just up and quit. The very nature of the role is it’s not something you choose, but instead, is thrust upon you.
The work isn’t fun. The stress is unrelenting. It’s difficult being at the top of your game night and day. It can be a tremendous sacrifice.
But it’s also a job that no matter how much we wish, we either can’t or don’t really want to stop. Ever find yourself in this situation? If so, maybe it’s time to ask these questions.
How can I change my expectations?
How often do you set yourself up for failure? Do you rise with a to-do list that rarely is accomplished? Burnout is inevitable when it comes to caregiving. But in many cases, it might be because you are enslaving yourself to a picture that can never be. The larger the gap is between what is possible and what you plan, the greater the pressure you’ll feel. This zaps your energy. Letting go of expectations is difficult and is something you may have to work towards. Take it one step at a time, accepting what is even if it’s for one moment of time per day.
What can I give up?
Back to your to-do list; what consistently gives you stress? If you’ve never evaluated your list before, it’s time to track what you do each day. Patterns form pretty quickly when you take notice. You’ll quickly see that certain projects or task add more stress to your daily life. This points to areas where change can be a good thing. Give these things up. Offload them to others that can help you. Be ruthless. Be strategic.
Do I need a break?
This is probably the toughest question you can ask. Of course, you want to be there for your loved one. Of course, it’s easy not to want to let anyone down, including yourself. But time away can and will make you a better person. It will allow you to continue caregiving in a better, healthier mindset.
How can I make sure I stay healthy?
Remember the advice you were given in an airplane the last time you flew; they instructed you that if the oxygen mask appears to affix your own before helping another? The same advice is needed for being a healthy caregiver. If you aren’t healthy, you can’t give 100 percent to the person you are caring for. This means in all aspects: mind, body, and soul. Ensure you have time every day just for you to ensure your own health remains priority.
What else do I need?
It’s okay to ask for help. Don’t fear that it will make you look weak if you can’t provide everything the person you are caring for needs. Leave the guilt behind and focus instead on taking it one day at a time, living in the moment, and providing everything you both need. Help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s recognizing that life is a journey and none of us can do it all alone.