“You are living an overextended lifestyle…how are you ever going to heal?”
Jeff, April Fan’s Physical Therapist
I was diagnosed with tendonitis in my right arm and not only did I have difficulty managing the household with two arms, I’m down to one functional arm and desperation to get things done was starting to boil over.
As long as you’re a caregiver juggling the demands of your parents, your kids, your career, and your personal life, it’s going to be a never ending story. So, here are some tips to becoming a more polished-balanced caregiver and live happily ever after:
1. Do a little time study. I realize that one more task may put you over the edge, but this exercise may be an eye opener. During one week, plug in all the “must do’s” and estimate how long it takes you to complete these tasks (i.e. getting everybody ready in the morning, going to the grocery store, visiting your mom at the skilled nursing facility, etc). Then track your actual time over the week. You’ll realize how fast your time fades away (i.e. waiting on the phone for some customer service) and how much time is wasted (i.e. unwinding with a little TV). This tracking of time will “wake you up” and you’ll become more conscientious to doing the things that absolutely matter and letting the rest go.
2. Say “no”. It’s going to be ok. For some reason, I had this weird sense of obligation to volunteer extra stuff at work, help out at my friend’s house every single time, bake cookies from scratch, etc. Once I stopped offering myself to everything, I had room to enjoy activities that were more meaningful to me. And, learning to say “no” made me feel so happy.
3. Put all that technology to rest. Being on call is a nice service for your co-workers and/or your supervisor however, you are not leaving your work at work. Or, hopping onto Face book every 10 minutes while you’re playing with your kids…is this necessary? I took my Dad to the doctor and in the waiting room, I read this sign in big letters, “turn off your cell phones, please”. These people are onto something, when you are tending to your family, give a 100%, then you don’t have to backtrack.
4. Sleep. Last, but not least is good ‘ol sleep. My tendonitis was not healing. I wasn’t allowing my body to rest. I was taking slices off my sleep to buy more time because I was so stubborn at being one-armed and ambitious. Sleep helps repair your body. It also allows your brain do all the work by organizing your knowledge and processing your thoughts so you can problem solve and tackle each and every challenging day.
Creating balance is essential in one’s sandwich generation existence, but the only way to “make it” is to allow yourself to be the priority. Then, you can rock and roll. You’ll be surprised to find pockets of time to do a few nice things for yourself. And, the caregiving part is all gravy.
Are you guilty of an unbalanced caregiving life? What can you let go today? Please leave your comments below.