Caregiving can be a stressful and demanding endeavour. Based on lessons learned in the book, Letters from Madelyn: Chronicles of a Caregiver here are some of my tried and true survival tips:
• Set aside some time each day for yourself. Having something to look forward to will help ease your emotional stress.
• Get the right equipment. As with any job, getting the right tools will protect you from unnecessary physical strain and injuries.
• Get out in nature. Let the sights, sounds, and smells of the outdoors lift your spirits.
• Learn something new. Even if you are confined physically, there is no limit to how far your mind can go.
• Stay connected socially. Participating in respite care programs and visiting with friends and family can help avoid depression and illness brought on by isolation.
• Look for humour in absurd situations and redefine fun. When faced with a difficult or frustrating circumstance, ask yourself, “Is there anything funny about this?” Also, seek new ways to bring joy and interesting activities into your life—this can bring about unexpected pleasure.
• Savour happy memories. Recall a specific happy occasion. Focus on recapturing the positive, loving feelings and the joy you experienced as you remember the event.
• Find a safe release for negative emotions. Accept the fact that you will not always feel and act as loving and kind as you would like. When experiencing extreme stress, get active—exercise, breathe deeply, write a rant, listen to music, call a friend, or scream into a pillow. Letting off a little steam can be a very good thing.
• Accept help. It is often much easier to give than it is to receive. If someone offers to help, understand that they are giving you a gift. Accept it graciously.
• Develop your spiritual nature. You may find comfort in faith. You may find it in music, meditation, or nature. If there is something that ignites your spirit, explore it, embrace it and let your soul soar.
• Accept that death is a part of life. Talking openly about death can help relieve fear and give you the opportunity to express everything you want your loved one to know. Then when the end comes, you will grieve his/her loss, but you will not have regrets about things left unsaid.