"If there is no struggle, there is no progress." - Frederick Douglass
How often do you place your feet on the floor in the morning and think, “I can’t wait to get this day started! I’m going to knock the wind out of adversity today!”
Yeah me neither at least not at first. My first words out of my mouth and thoughts are “thank you Lord for waking me up and for watching over my family as we slept that no harm came to us.” I’ll talk to you about that more in a bit.
My initial thoughts would be, “Oh God what is going to happen today, or I sure hope today is better than yesterday.” What we think about at the start of our day is what sets the tone for our day. As a caregiver we have the tendency to take the negative from the day before and replay it in our mind over and over again. Trying to figure out what went wrong or why are we trapped in hell. We get stuck in the cycle of “it can only get worse” and we buy into our life “sucking” and we re-enforce that mindset every day with repeating that mantra, sometimes so often that it comes out of our mouth almost as many times.
There is no doubt that on a daily basis a mental health family caregiver endures EVERYTHING from mood swings, resistance to taking medication, hostility, mis-directed anger, depressive episodes where they must monitor a loved one to ensure they don’t harm themselves, to being accused of seeking to harm their loved one or part of a conspiracy to do so. A caregivers day also includes at times, bathing, brusing the teeth of their loved one, grooming their loved one, changing adult diapers, lifting a loved one from the wheel chair into bed and a host of other tasks their loved one may have difficulty or is unable to do.
Because a “Day in the life” of a caregiver is so complex how we as caregivers approach our days must be:
Slow to anger
Physically, Mentally, and Emotionally resilient
And there are a host more character traits and skills a caregiver must have, develop, or learn in order to be effective in the care of themselves and of their loved ones. You may think that is way too much to think about or “be working on” but the truth is you do so many of those things throughout your day without even thinking about it, which is what makes Caregivers so unique and great at what they do.
Your challenge(s) you are facing today in your caregiving journey are not because you are not equipped for them or that you don’t know what you are doing. Most of it is contributed to you haven’t sat down and looked at your journey for what it truly is and them strategized a plan of action from there. You are operating from a place of “reactive” instead of “proactive”, so you find yourself running in circles and overwhelmed the bulk of your day and worn out from the stress of your day.
Taking the time to do inventory and to assess your needs creates order in chaos and not knowing how to do that frustrates you further. Having someone from the outside speak and assist you from a neutral place is a valuable gift to you, your loved one, and your family who co-exists in the home or who is part of the support for your loved one.
I’ll share some 3 things you can do right now to change how your day goes:
What does your self-care look like? – Until you can take taking care of yourself seriously you will suffer. Your spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health is important, if you neglect them you will pay a heavy price…maybe even your life. Until you can put aside time for you and your needs you will find misery and you will be in a constant state of regret and resentment.
Are you honest about your feelings and what you are capable of? – Many times the added stress in our day comes from our starting off with a wrong, or starting off looking for what is going to happen bad today…if you seek you will find. Change what you are looking for to gratitude and positivity regardless to how bad it is you can always find a way to fix it or a way to accept that you have no control over it.
What is it you don’t have that you need? – Most times we never stop to assess what we need just keep working with whatever keeps the house from burning down, whether it’s a kickstand or a band-aide as long as the house is still standing at the end of the day and we get through it that is all that matters. We give up on solving a problem and settle with patching it up just to get through. Find out what you need and then go get it.
Looking at your day from the viewpoint of “I have no control” will ensure that you don’t. When you decide to be proactive about how you begin and prepare for your day you empower yourself. I’m not promising you will control your day at all, I’m telling you if you prepare for your day you will be less surpised by it and able to handle more of it. You give a gift to yourself and to your loved one by investing in your education as a caregiver and in the effective management of the care demands of your loved one.
I have a really good training program going on right now called “Breaking The Time Bank” which focuses on your self care and the restructuring of your caregiving day that allows for the care of your loved one and a life outside of caregiving for you. If you’re interested click here: #BreakingTheTimeBank and once you have entered your email click the “Click here after registering to purchase the "Breaking The Time Bank" modules for this course” The deadline to register is January 9, 2016. At $1.00 a day the amount of information and structure you receive in this challenge will empower you for years into your caregiving journey and affect other aspects of your personal development!
La Shawn is a Mental Health Survivor & Mental Health Family Caregiver. Although her passion has always been to help those in need, Homagi began 12 years ago as a non profit for homeless women and children, she chose to use her experience as a Mental Health Family Caregiver to guide other family caregivers on their journey as they assist their loved ones on theirs. She is known for her vibrant smile, easy going personality, positive attitude, and servant spirit. Always willing to stop and listen or share an experience with others, you feel heard and appreciated. Don't let those characteristics fool you into believing she's not an advocate who will stand up, march, and make the voice of the sometimes voiceless heard. A California native, now a Houstonian she loves the beach, hiking, crocheting and woodwork. She is married to her best friend and co-pilots their blended family of 5 children and 3 granddaughters.