I have to admit, I love reminder acronyms (otherwise known as mnemonics). Here's a new one to help you engage in some active self-care while you're caring for another person. Stressed out caregivers can't give their full potential, so it's important to learn to ask yourself… What's my TALLY?
What's A CareGiver Tally?
Take care of yourself; Ask for help, for information, for training; Leave room for caregiving; Little things mean a lot; Yes to hope!
Caregiver stress can be a killer. The problem is that many of you are locked in what I call “Caregiver Mentality”, in which you ignore the stress and its physical effects on your body.
Tips on Managing Caregiver Stress
1) Take care of yourself. Engage in active self-care: exercise, eat well, make sure you get enough sleep, have a team of friends and family that support you in your caregiving.
2) Ask for what you need. If you need help, if you don't have the information or expertise that you need, speak up and ask for it! One of the hallmarks of “Caregiver Mentality” is a passive attitude in which you wait for someone to offer you what you need. If you need it to improve yourself, your knowledge, and/or your ability to continue on with your caregiving duties the best way you can, then ask!
3) Leave room in your schedule for caregiving. Your time is impacted by your caregiving duties. That means you may need to release other voluntary obligations so that you have the time and space to devote to your loved one. Don't cram caregiving on top of an already-full schedule. On the flip-side, don't forget to schedule time for yourself. A little “me” time goes a long way to help with the stress and pressures of being a caregiver.
4) Little things mean a lot. Treat yourself, as well as your patient, with compassion in small acts of kindness. Little acts that mean a lot to both of you may include a special meal, a fresh blossom from the market or your garden, time to just be with one another, actively listening to him or her, and finding someone who will do the same for you. These little acts will help reduce that big stress you are living with.
5) Yes! To hope. Hope is a great gift to you and your loved one. Actively seek it out, and make room for it by releasing your fear. Dr. Bernie Siegel has a wonderful line: “In the face of uncertainty, there's nothing wrong with hope.”