Caring For You, While Caring for Someone Else

 In my last blog about caregiver burnout, I shared with you the tiredness I have been feeling from caretaking. While I am glad that I am able to support my loved one, the reality is that it impacts your life, your schedule/routine and the people around you. To me, it feels like trying to add more hours into the non-extending 24-hour day.

 As promised, I have done some pondering and came up a few habits I’ve adopted over the years that have helped me. There are all types of caregiving, try and plug these ideas in where you can, to help lessen the load and make your day a little easier.

 Hand Over the Keys – Valet Parking
I think it is worth it to spend the extra bucks to valet. Most major health systems offer valet parking for patients and their guests. I’m a big fan of getting extra steps in, however, many times when you’re navigating a busy area, finding a parking spot can be stressful. Treat yourself – remove your car key from your key chain, take your ticket, grab “your stuff” and mosey into the building. (Or if you’re running late, walk fast.)

 Just Be
I used to think that a perk to sitting in waiting rooms was looking through the magazines that I don’t subscribe to and/or catching up on my emails/texts. I have now evolved to cherishing that time to be quiet and let my mind be free from stimulation. Depending upon the situation, I could be spending a lot of time waiting and will definitely take advantage of it to get some work done. However, I’ve learned that when I still my mind, it helps manage my worry and eases my anxiety.

 Eat Better
One of the challenges, especially if it is “off hours” is eating healthily, when you only have access to vending machines. If you know that you’re going to be spending some time at the hospital, think about packing a sandwich. I’m a big fan of peanut butter and jelly. It’s easy, you don’t have to worry about it being refrigerated and if it gets smashed in your bag, it still tastes good.

 When I am tired, I naturally find myself drawn to the comfort foods. Ironically, most hospitals tend to make these foods available (pizza, mac and cheese, fried foods). Do your best to avoid them. They do not fuel you; instead, they add to your sluggishness. Seek foods that fuel and nourish you.

I always have a water bottle with me. I recommend bringing your own water bottle and then filling it from the water or soda fountain. It saves you a few dollars on buying water (use those extra bucks for your valet), and you can easily refill it when you need to.

 Seek Quiet Space
If you’re spending time at a hospital, seek out the chapel. Whether you are a religious person or not, decompressing in a chapel feels good. I tend to go in and pray and just be. It’s peaceful, lacks stimulation and gives you some time to reflect and meditate.

 I also will seek out a chapel during life’s craziness to do this as well. Being raised Catholic, I know there’s a chapel in every Catholic church and will stop by and spend some quiet time there to decompress. I find that it nourishes my soul.

 Let’s Get Real – It’s Pudding Time!
For me, one of the biggest perks when I’m a hospital is the chocolate pudding in the cafeteria! While I make an effort to eat well, I can’t resist the “good ‘ole” chocolate pudding. For some reason, it always hits the spot and the treat seems to make life a little less stressful.

 If you have some ideas, please share them. I hope you try one of the suggestions above and it makes a positive impact during a stressful time. I still have a few more to share, so stay tuned. Big hug and pat on the back to you. Keep on, keeping on.


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