Being a caregiver isn't for sissies. Caregiving takes physical, mental and emotional strength. The demands of a caregiver require a certain fortitude that many believe they are unable to display.
Think back to your beginning days as a caregiver, or perhaps there is a single moment you can pinpoint when you knew your world was changing. Do you remember the fear, the panic, the soul-crushing uncertainty of how you would handle it all? Or maybe you’re in that moment now.
Fear not. Like any muscle, caregiving muscles can be built and strengthened. In fact many caregivers have said they didn't realize just how strong they were until they became a caregiver. So don’t worry, you've got this!
Over the next few months, we’ll take a look at the some of these muscles every caregiver needs. The good news is that you already have these muscles, they just might need to be strengthened a bit.
Some people are just born with limitless patience, but for the rest of us, this is a muscle we must train. I have found that like my lower abdomen, my patience muscle is a stubborn and weak one. But the good news is that I can work to strengthen both of them.
The best exercise to build your patience also happens to be the easiest exercise. All you need to do is stop. Yes, I said stop – as in do nothing. I know you’re excited about this, but I should note that stopping may not strengthen that lower abdomen, only your patience. Sorry about that.
Now back to building up your patience. Stop thinking about what needs to be done in fifteen minutes, one hour, tomorrow, next week. Stop living your life in the fast lane on your way to the next thing.
You are only required to live in this moment right now. When you find yourself moving into the fast lane, stop and think about the worst thing that would happen if you were late. What terrible thing would happen if you just stopped thinking about the future at this very moment and only focused on now?
Remember that life is not a race – in the end we all end up in the same spot, so do you really want to be in a rush to get there?
Of course, all of this isn't to say you shouldn't be planning or thinking ahead. Good caregivers know that planning ahead (as much as possible) is key to keeping your sanity and one of the few ways you keep from constantly living in crisis mode.
There is a difference between thinking ahead and daydreaming or worrying about the future. Set some time aside each week for future planning. Actually schedule this time in your calendar. This could involve scheduling appointments, meeting with a financial planner, or attending a support group. Once you have this dedicated time to plan, you can more easily focus on today instead of worrying about tomorrow.
Next month we will focus on strengthening your determination muscle. If you have a story about how you’ve used determination as a caregiver, I’d love to hear it. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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