Take a good look at your To-Do List. On one sheet of paper, write items you MUST accomplish; on another, list things that would be nice to achieve. What I'm going to say next is hard to hear, but it's VERY IMPORTANT to reducing your stress levels. Are you ready?
Throw away the second page. You don't need the pressure of having it on your To-Do List when it's not essential. When you have some free time, you can think about those things. If you can't bear throwing it away, put it in a drawer out of sight. (I understand.)
Now look at the items on your smaller To-Do list and mark off the things that are not under your control. How can you be responsible for it if you can't control it? You should now have a smaller, more manageable list.
Now let's go a little further, and divide the list into three categories according to their priority. Number each item with a 1, 2, or 3. #1 is a Top Priority, #2 For medium priority, and #3 needs to be done sometime.
Focus your energy on accomplishing the #1's on the list. Stop worrying about everything else and focus your efforts on achieving them. They need to be done, and you've decided they are the most important. As most important, they should get the most attention.
Undivided attention causes you to accomplish considerably more.
Having your priorities written down relieves stress. You don't need to remember things that are written down.
Free up some mental space. Please write it down.
Move it! Move it!
We all know exercising releases endorphins in our brain (the feel-good hormone), but exercising can be boring, right? What about listening to a podcast or uplifting music while walking the dog or pushing your loved one in a wheelchair?
Pushing them while you walk can do wonders for both of you! Exercise, stress relief, change of scenery, mood enhancement, and as an added bonus, you’re lowering your odds of getting dementia.
What if you walked on the treadmill while watching a favorite tv show?
Turn up some old music and dance alone or with your loved one. Be silly and have fun.
Know Your High-Performance Times
Some people are early birds, while others are night owls. Some accomplish much before the sun rises, and others are at their best after sunset. Some have an afternoon burst of energy, and some need an afternoon nap.
It’s important to know which group matches your preference. Utilize your peak performance times to accomplish items requiring more time, attention, or energy.
Use your low time doing menial tasks requiring little thought like folding laundry, cleaning, or going through junk mail.
Set realistic Goals
Everything doesn’t need to be completed at once. Refer to the priority list we created in step one.
Goals need to be adjusted as the care recipient’s ability changes. Caregivers are wise when they lower expectations for themselves and their loved ones.
An excellent example is having the goal to be at appointments early but being happy if you made it on time. If you were a little late, understand that’s okay too. You got there, and that means the goal was accomplished.
You are doing a challenging service in being a caregiver. Many people either cannot or will not make the sacrifices you make daily.
So what if you aren’t on time? If you arrived and you and your loved one are dressed, teeth in, glasses on, and shoes on, you succeeded!
I enlarged that because you need to hear it. I suggest rereading it to get it into your heart.
Give yourself a break.
I’m talking about a literal break. Take a little time off for yourself. It’s not selfish; it’s self-preservation. That might look like a thousand different things. The important part is that you do something that makes you happy, brings you joy, makes you smile, or helps you unwind.
Here are a few ideas:
Read a book, listen to music, a podcast, or an audiobook. Soak in a hot tub, garden, go for a walk, or watch birds. Do some art, cooking, crafting, or sewing. Sip a coffee and do nothing or call a friend to catch up.
It’s easy to get caught up in constantly being in motion, but your mind and body need a rest time.
Take care of yourself in order to better care for them.