DOES YOUR CAREGIVING 'TALLY' UP?
I have to admit, I love reminder acronyms, otherwise known as mnemonics. Here's a new one to help you engage in some active self-care while you're caring for another person.
Learn to ask yourself, what's my TALLY?
Take care of yourself;
Ask for help, for information, for training;
Leave room for caregiving;
Little things mean a lot;
Yes to hope!
Caregiver stress can be a killer. The problem is that many of you are locked in what I call Caregiver Mentality, in which you ignore that stress and its physical effects on your body.
One way to counter Caregiver Mentality is to learn to track your TALLY:
1) Take care of yourself. Engage in active self-care: exercise, eat well, make sure you get enough sleep, have a team of friends and family that support you in your caregiving.
2) Ask for what you need. If you need help, if you don't have the information or expertise that you need, speak up and ask for it! One of the hallmarks of Caregiver Mentality is a passive attitude in which you wait for someone to offer you what you need. If you need it in your caregiving, then ask!
3) Leave room in your schedule for caregiving. Your time is impacted by your caregiving duties. That means you need to release other voluntary obligations so that you have the time and space to devote to your loved one. Don't cram caregiving on top of an already-full schedule.
4) Little things mean a lot. Treat yourself, as well as your patient, with compassion in small acts of kindness. Little acts that mean a lot to both of you include a special meal, a fresh blossom from the market or your garden, time to just be with one another, actively listening to him or her, and finding someone who will do the same for you. These little acts will help reduce that big stress you are living with.
5) Yes! To hope. Hope is a great gift to you and your loved one. Actively seek it out, and make room for it by releasing your fear. Dr. Bernie Siegel has a wonderful line: "In the face of uncertainty, there's nothing wrong with hope."