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Posted: May 01, 2006

Practical Caregiving

Don't Worry; Be Happy -- It Can Work for You

 

Spring is here, but as a caregiver you can't do what you'd like to do. You would like to go to a local park and maybe just sit there. You might even meet friends to go swimming, watch a softball game or do something else fun. But you can't. Some of you are tied up taking care of someone you love very much. Some of you are stuck taking care of a parent you have never felt close to. Whatever the situation, you feel locked into a situation you don't want to be in.
 
I understand how you feel. At times, almost every family caregiver feels that way. What you need to do is find a way to get around those feelings and start enjoying life again.
 
First of all, you need to work on your own attitude. When you feel stuck, you are usually feeling sorry for yourself. The fact that you might have a legitimate reason to feel that way doesn't make it good for you to keep feeling sorry for yourself. It will only cause you problems -- even health problems. It hurts you, and you need to readjust your thinking to get away from hurting yourself all the time.
 
Absolutely every person on this earth gets into situations where they can feel sorry for themselves. Basically, there are two types of people. Those people who continue feeling sorry for themselves and those who quit feeling sorry for themselves. You may feel there is a legitimate reason to feel sorry for yourself, but it won't do you any good. It will just cause your friends to not want to be around you. They don't want to hear you complain all the time, and they don't have to. They won't hang around you as much as you would like.
 
Feeling sorry for yourself is called self-pity. It is thinking about yourself -- only. You aren't thinking about the person you are taking care of. You aren't thinking of anyone else. You are thinking about yourself, and that is all. Sure, you are in a situation that you don't want to be in. But, you are there and you might as well do everything you can to make yourself happier. If you feel hesitant about it, you might be comfortable with being unhappy. It can become like a security blanket. I don't believe anyone actually wants to be unhappy. It just happens, and they get used to it. You wouldn't feel stuck in your situation if you were happy about it. You want to do other things that make you happy, but you haven't found out how. We need to find out how.
 
You know, I see a lot of people who are in much worse situations than most of us, and they don't feel sorry for themselves. They start looking for ways to make things better. Just think of the energy it takes to feel sorry for yourself. You brood, complain, feel unhappy. It takes a lot of energy to dwell on being miserable. Why don't you put that energy into changing your attitude and finding ways to make yourself happy?
 
First of all, forgive the person you are taking care of. They can't help that they need someone to take care of them. It isn't something they chose. You don't want to be upset because you have to take care of them. Forgiving them is a choice you can make. Then, a little later, you will feel forgiving.
 
Take care of yourself. Eat right and exercise. Have a friend come in once or twice a week to help with your loved one while you do something you enjoy. And, don't feel guilty about taking care of yourself and finding something you enjoy. You need it.
 
Don't let yourself say negative words. Don't let yourself even think negative thoughts. Every time you think something negative, tell yourself you are not going to think that way anymore. Then, think of something uplifting. Think of something you enjoy.
 
If you call yourself dumb or stupid, stop doing that. Right away. If you say you are ugly, stop calling yourself that. Stop running yourself down. Think of the good points you have -- and you do have many good points. For example, if someone else gets angry easily but you don't, that is clearly one of your good points.
 
Find something to do that you enjoy while you are taking care of your loved one. Do you enjoy reading? Do you enjoy watching movies? Do you enjoy searching the internet? What about doing your own blog? Do you enjoy cooking, or drawing, or whittling? Just find something to do that you enjoy while you are taking care of your loved one.
 
Is there anything you can do to make someone else happy? Someone other than your loved one? If you can sew, what about making an outfit for your neighbors little girl? If you can bake, make a batch of cookies for another neighbor?
 
You will find that if you take care of yourself and your needs, then do something for someone else, you will be fulfilled and stop feeling stuck in your caregiving situation.
 
Make the effort. Improve your life. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. When you do that, you will be a much better caregiver. You will find that your loved one's life also improves. So, everyone can win all around. Give it a try.

 

 

© 2006 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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Please send me your questions, comments and issues regarding the practical side of caregiving at ASKJEAN@caregivershome.com, and remember to take advantage of our professionals and experts in the Ask an Expert section of our website. You'll find it in the left column on our homepage.

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