If you are a caregiver to someone afflicted with Alzheimer’s, you might be giving yourself away. Overworked, stressed and a high tolerance for martyrdom unfortunately will cause your own body to break down along with your outlook on life. You will fall into the category of people who live lives of quiet desperation – despite the feigned cheerfulness.
No matter how good you are or how much you do every day, you will feel that you never do enough as a caregiver. Sister Helen of the Benedictine Order and in charge of a Wellness program has a daily job of educating her church community about disease prevention. On a personal level she had her own caregiving breakthrough which she shares:
“I have emerged from a life of spending it all for Jesus and He will take care of us selflessness. Today I preach the notion that the self is important, that the self should be put first, so that you can launch into the activities of daily living pain free and energized, ever mindful of the wondrous mind-body relationship. This essentially is care for the caregiver. Isn’t that what Jesus taught --- care of the self, others and the earth? Because of years of deprivation as a religious sister, I have trouble practicing what I preach. How ironic that taking care of my health was so stressful and difficult!”
Here are some tips to ease up on yourself and feel lighter:
- Keep your refrigerator and pantry stocked with healthy food. This way you will fuel your body and mind with quality food. Self-pity lodges longest in a brain that is deprived of good food energy.
- For the stressful times create an emergency tape of your own voice advising yourself to be supportive, kind and loving; have a rational conversation with yourself in third person, “I want this for you_____. The world needs this for you.”
- Exhausted? When you aren’t using your energy to control people and circumstances, you don’t get used up. Note: If it doesn’t get done today, it will get done tomorrow or another day.
- Prioritize your most demanding tasks when you have the most energy.
- Have realistic expectations. This means avoiding comparisons to the good old days. Live moment to moment – one moment can be bad, the next one better.
- Feeling depressed? Optimism is associated with exercise and more physical activity.
- Note the difference between feeling guilty and assuming responsibility for things that go wrong.
- Worry less about the metaphysical why of things; instead make yourself happier today.
- Your sense of fun and joy is absorbed by the person who is in your care.
For more information on caregiving read my book, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout. To listen to archived radio shows with guest experts visit Turn On Your Inner Light Radio Show