Beyond self-care: 7 Tips on how caregivers can enjoy life more
Just like anything in life that goes unnoticed for too long, caregiving can become way more of a burden than a joy, and your life along with it.
It’s no wonder there’s so many self-help books out there on bringing more joy and lightness into life as our world becomes more hectic, demanding and complicated.
So let’s forget about the heavy stuff and dive into some light and fluffy tips on having more fun.
Appreciate the simple moments
When we rush around from appointments to meetings to the store to shop for dinner, it’s hard to enjoy the sunlight streaming in through the clouds, or the flowers blooming on the sidewalk. See if you can be more aware of these moments.
I know for me, regular meditation helps me pause and notice my breathing throughout the day. When you pay attention to your breath, you bring yourself back into the present moment and start to notice your surroundings again.
Whenever your brain is racing thinking about the next task, try taking a few deep breaths and notice how you feel.
It’s easy to be annoyed, frustrated and overwhelmed when you don’t set boundaries. Whether it’s boundaries on the time you spend caregiving, what you talk about with your loved one or how much they can call you during the day, boundaries set expectations and limits that benefit your sanity and sense of self.
Think about when you’re most frustrated during caregiving and how setting boundaries around the circumstance could help. For instance, maybe you tell your parent to only call for emergencies during a certain time of day when you’re working.
This will leave more breathing room for you and your relationships.
Be kind to yourself
You’re caring for an elderly human and that’s a big deal. You have to deal with the reality of your loved one’s health while juggling the rest of your life.
It’s okay to feel frustrated, angry and resentful. And it’s better to address these emotions and sit with them rather than bury them and deal with it in an intensified form. (Check out our blog on how toxic positivity doesn’t help anyone.) So sit with what you’re experiencing and acknowledge how you feel.
Then move on when it feels right and tell yourself you’re doing the best you can, because you probably are.
Indulge when you can
As the millennial saying goes…. Treat yourself!!
Do you see a lovely scarf in a window shop? Buy it.
Do you need some “me time?” Take a nice meandering walk on a nature trail. (Get some ideas here.)
Are you feeling a little haggard lately? Schedule a manicure and pedicure- you deserve it.
Plan adventures and travels
We all need to escape our reality at times. Sometimes it’s the only way to relax and let go of our to-do lists.
Getting away looks different for everyone. For a caregiver who’s more of a homebody, it could mean driving an hour away to the mountains or the coast and renting a cozy cabin for the weekend.
For someone who likes to travel far and wide, it could mean planning a COVID-safe river cruise that you’ve been dreaming of for years.
Studies point to the fact that even just planning a trip can boost our general mood and outlook. The act gives you a renewed sense of purpose and something to look forward to, which can give you more energy during your day-to-day duties.
Do something spontaneous
It’s important to mix things up once in a while. Being spontaneous reminds me of the movie Yes Man with Jim Carrey. In the movie, Carl implements the strategy of a self-help program but saying “yes” to everything that comes his way.
Needless to say, the strategy changes his life.
The movie is good inspiration for reminding yourself to check your inner critic and be more open to new experiences.
Don’t take yourself so seriously
Most of us could work on this one some more. With so many responsibilities, it can be hard to pull your brain out of the swamp of duty and routine.
Some of us are better at laughing at ourselves than others. Studies link being able to laugh at ourselves with higher levels of optimism.
We know how good it feels when we have a good laugh with friends or a close family member. It’s like shedding a weighted blanket from our shoulders and makes it easier to move on with a more positive resolve.
Need a refresher on how to tap into your goofy side? Read our past blog about getting weird with your favorite senior.
Megan Marolf writes about senior topics and outdoor recreation from her home base in Seattle. You can read more about her here.
If you or a loved one you know are looking for additional support during this time and are interested in scheduling a free in-home assessment, please contact SeaCare In-Home Care Services today! A SeaCare family member is standing by. 425-559-4339.