Busy. That word is sometimes an understatement as it applies to one who spends a majority of their time caring for a loved one. You have acquired the "non-stop, auto pilot mode" and only a very small fraction of those gears in the control panel are devoted to you, the caregiver. Let me help you make a few minor, but much needed adjustments to the cock pit. Helping you fly at optimal performance speeds is the goal. Activating some vital instruments on your flight panel is the objective!
This is part 2 of the 3 part series, Caring for the Busy Caregiver. If you haven't read, Caring for the Busy Caregiver - Part 1, you may want to read there first. I will be sharing 15 helpful tips total, 5 in each segment.
Here is a quick refresher of the first 5 tips;
1). Make Sure the Lord is #1 on Your Daily “To Do” List! 2). Begin a Daily Journal 3). Get Adequate Rest 4). Eat Right & Don’t Skip Meals 5). Schedule in Some “FUN” Time
I hope that you've already taken some steps to incorporate these habits into your life. It takes at least 30 days to purge an old habit, and likewise, it will also take 30 days to begin a series of new habits. If you've made a start, keep going! You can do it! Let me point out again that you have undertaken a huge responsibility. In all probability, it is the greatest and most important one of all, "caring for another in their time of need."
Let's review the greatest of the the commandments spoken of by Jesus and recorded by the Gospel writer, Mark. The Pharisees and Sadducees spent a good deal of their time trying to outwit and corner our Lord as He taught the masses. The following verse of scripture is a response given by Jesus when one of the teachers of the law asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself. 'There is no commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:28-31 NIV ).
What portion of this scripture grabbed you? More than likely, the admonition to love the Lord above all, as it should be foremost in our hearts and minds at all times. This relationship with our risen Lord is the key to every other aspect of our lives. He provides everything, for (both spiritual and physical needs), and the out-flowing of this relationship with the Lord is our love for others. As a caregiver you see your role of caring for another as part of fulfilling the greatest commandment. Caring for another human being in any form, whether it is your spouse, a child, a friend or even someone you don't particularly get along with, or know well, would also fall into that category of "loving your neighbor." But caring for a loved one who is terminally ill or dying, though it is no different than the aforementioned, does require a deeper level of commitment in both time and resources. In my relatively short time on earth while talking with caregivers who are either employed by hospitals and nursing homes, or are loving children caring for an ailing parent, one underlying characteristic usually makes itself very evident in their lives, and that is their amazing ability to empathize with others. This leads us to the third and final portion of the greatest commandment "loving your neighbor, as yourself."
What is meant by " loving your neighbor, as yourself?" Part of it has to do with placing ourselves in another ones situation in life. Empathetic caregivers can all too easily envision themselves in the position of their sick loved ones. Love one another the way that we ourselves desire to be loved. Who on earth would want to be sick, and on top of that not understood or ignored by others? Our physical needs increase as we lose mobility and proper body functions. Our spiritual needs are just as great as they ever were, even when we display signs of incoherency. Most caregivers are often keenly aware of the needs of their patients and/or loved ones that are usually overlooked by the casual passerby. But there is another important dimension that more than likely did not jump out at you, and that is taking care of "you." Immediately we cringe at the thought!It is right to care forourselves and take those steps to keep ourselves functioning at our best.This verse of scripture has to do with fasting, but it's still applicable in the sense that we are speaking of;
But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. (Matthew 6:17-18 NLT)
We have all been exposed to those who have no respect for themselves or for others. It's a chore to be around them. In the same respect, knowing who we are in Christ and respecting who we are in Him and taking proper care of ourselves is completely different from being selfish. I could write a whole new article on this point alone, but I'm going to save it for another day. As we practice a right outlook and perspective of ourselves in Christ, we will also love others correctly, the way they need to be loved. Let's practice a few more good habits in order to take care of ourselves.
Here are the 5 Tips & Reminders for Part 2 of Taking Care of the Busy Caregiver, .. YOU!
6). Learn to Forgive Yourself! That's right! For all of those feelings of inadequacy. For not having all of the answers at just the right time! For raising your voice on occasion, replying out of turn or in a disrespectful tone. For sometimes feeling resentment toward your loved one. For all of those times when you couldn't reach those goals. (You are far from a failure in Christ). For running late or oversleeping. For _____________ you fill in the blank__________.
7). Find Someone You Can Trust Inevitably there will be many times you will meet with various bumps in the road. They arrive in many forms. Side effects to a new medicine or a sudden reaction to food types are common bumps. As illnesses progress we experience many unexpected obstacles, and this can produce an array of emotions from sadness to anger. It's very important to find that " someone" who you can trust to be yourself with. Sometimes just a good cry on a caring shoulder is all we need. At other times we face making critical decisions for our loved ones, like housing or new treatment options. It helps greatly to be able to bounce these things off of another caring heart. In addition to that trusted someone, you can always visit our group; The Caregiver's Corner. We are there to listen, pray and to help you find answers. If we don't know the answer, we will help you find someone who does, or at least point you in the right direction. 8). If You Haven't Already, Begin a Daily Devotional Do a search through the overlooked books on your shelf. If you are like me there will always be an extra devotional that you neglected to read. If you have kept up on your reading list and are in need of a fresh new book, then by all means it's time to head to your favorite bookstore to do some browsing. Starting the day off with a good devotional read is one of the best way to start your days, but packing a few good books into your carry all as you make the daily round to care for your loved one is another great habit to begin! If your loved one resides with you in your home, create a special reading area just for you and allot a certain time each day to devote to reading. It may seem like just another task to add to your already overloaded day, but actually, it is a necessary contribution to your own daily sense of well-being and brightened outlook.
9). Devote Some Time to Your Favorite Hobby I can hear you now, "What did you say?" That's right, spend some time on one of your favorite hobbies! Knitting, crocheting, scrapbooking, sketching, writing, stamp collecting, needlepoint, ceramics, gardening and quilting are a few that come to mind. I'm sure you can recall one or two of your favorite hobbies! You're probably swaying your head back and forth in a resounding "no" because you can't possibly squeeze in another "to do", but this is not another thing to do, rather it is creative outlet that is another vital contribution to your own well being. You can devote as little as 30 minutes a day or every other day. That sense of accomplishment amidst the care giving with be well worth it. Involve the loved one that you are caring for into the hobby with you! They may balk at first, but that doesn't mean they aren't watching what you are doing. The hobby may grow into a lasting, heartfelt memory between them and you.
10). Be a List Keeper Start writing it all down! The busier we get the more forgetful we are. It's an important habit for caregivers and non-caregivers alike! When we get our goals and tasks on paper, we relieve our minds of the daunting task of trying to remember it all. Worries will begin to fade as you can see what lies before your day. I created a few simple but efficient blank list sheets that I will make available for you to download in part 3 of this series.
I'm leaving you with a few more scriptures as I pray that part 2 has been an encouragement to you today!
"Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (James 2:8 NLV).
"The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’No other commandment is greater than these” (Mark 12:31 NLT).
"Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself“ (Matthew 19:19 NLV).