Self-care for Caregivers is NOT an Oxymoron

Caregiver Connections: Self-Care Link up

self-careCaregiver Self-Care is NOT an Oxymoron

If you’re deep in the throes of caregiving, you probably hear the, ‘Take time to care for yourself,’ advice from multiple people. It sounds like an oxymoron. Who’s got time for that?

Join the 5-Day Self-Care Challenge for Caregivers. Learn how to take care of yourself so you can take care of your loved one. #caregiver #selfcareYou shake your head and let the suggestion roll off your already drooping shoulders. Who has time for ONE MORE THING when a loved one’s life hangs in the balance?

Maybe you care for someone whose disease moves in agonizing increments, one stolen memory at a time. Your caregiving tasks might seem so light that you don’t notice the build-up of burden. And so you don’t think you NEED to give yourself any special attention.

Trust me, you STILL need to practice healthy self-care. Caregivers risk endangering both their physical and mental health when they fail to take care of themselves. I know. It happened to me. During my husband’s cancer journey, I failed to take care of myself.

Sure, I cashed in on a massage gift certificate that some kind soul gave me. One visit to the massage therapist in a year-long caregiving stint does not equal self-care. I quit exercising and started drowning my sorrows in eBay therapy (if anyone ever comments on the number of Longaberger baskets in my house, I might shrug and say that I like baskets. Now you know the real reason). When eBay therapy wouldn’t suffice, I’d try Häagan Dazs® therapy.

I should have joined a support group. That would have provided a much-needed self-care element to my life. And I never should have given up on exercise (although stress seemed like the perfect excuse for giving up something I didn’t like very much to begin with).

The third Wednesday of each month we’ll share our stories and advice about caregiver self-care. Don’t let anyone convince you that the term ‘caregiver self-care’ is an oxymoron. It’s something that we need to systematically build into our caregiver journeys in order to avoid things like caregiver PTSD and compassion fatigue.

I Challenge YOU!

I challenge you to take care of yourself! It’s so important to really take care of ourselves, even when a loved one is in crisis. If you’re interested in finding out more, join the 5-day Self-Care Challenge for Caregivers. It’s free, it’s easy, and in just 25 minutes a day (NOT all at the same time), you can take proactive steps to caring for yourself.

Sign up to the take the 5-day Self-Care Challenge for #caregivers. YOU need to stay healthy in order to care for others! Click To Tweet

Join the Challenge!

Join the 5-Day Self-Care Challenge for Caregivers and start taking care of YOU!

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Guidelines

In order to make this link up user friendly AND pertinent to caregivers and their needs, please make sure that what you link up follows the guidelines for the week. This week is for SELF-CARE FOR CAREGIVERS. If you aren’t sure if your link is appropriate, feel free to email me at anita at blessedbutstressed dot com and ask!

We will delete links that aren’t on topic in order to keep the link up a true community resource. We WILL contact you first and let you know that we will remove your link. For non-caregiving related links, we invite you to participate in the Inspire Me Monday link up over at www.anitaojeda.com.

By linking up, you agree to receive weekly reminders about the link up.

Do look for the caregiver boards on Pinterest.

Do link up more than one post!

Join our Facebook community, too! It’s easy, just click that button over on the right! —->

Community Spotlight

This week’s spotlight shines on Dr. Michelle Bengtson, a neuropsychologist, writer, and caregiver. She interviewed a dementia caregiver, and in this post, the caregiver shares resources for dementia caregivers. Make sure you check out both the article and Dr. Bengtson’s blog!

Link up Schedule:

1st Wednesday of the month: Caregiver Stories

2nd Wednesday of the month: Resources

3rd Wednesday of the month: Caregiver Self-care

4th Wednesday of the month: Caregiver Encouragement

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Five Valuable Resources for Caregivers in Crisis

How to Harness the Power of Social Media

social
Other People Can Become Your Most Valuable Resource

When disaster strikes, how does a person decide what to share on social media and with whom to share the information?

Ultimately, the decision should rest squarely in the hands of the person who is sick. In the case of an ill minor, the decisions rests in the hands of the parents. While our first impulse might be to log on to to Facebook and announce “#Cancer sucks, and Bobby has it”, it’s probably not a good idea. Especially if ‘Bobby’ is your husband and you haven’t discussed it with him yet. Or even worse, if ‘Bobby’ is your cousin’s child and your cousin has no idea that you’ve announced his child’s medical condition to the entire world.

When my husband, Pedro, received a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 16 years ago, Mark Zuckerberg hadn’t even finished high school and Jack Dorsey had yet to create Twitter or tweet about anything. Social media consisted of emails and local gossip.

When we broke the bad news to family and close friends, we either did it in person or called them. We emailed others who we thought would like to know about the diagnosis.

At first, it was easy to keep people informed about Pedro’s fight. Gossip and the occasional phone call did the trick. Unfortunately, when his condition worsened and we had to travel over a thousand miles away from our local support network, information sharing got complicated.

From Mild to Wild

Phone calls to our local pastor and my parents (who had moved in with us to take care of our young children) kept people informed of our prayer needs and Pedro’s ongoing condition. Unfortunately, this word-of-mouth method of passing on information resulted in rumors of Pedro’s eminent demise (though no fault of either our pastor or my parents)—prompting one of my daughter’s classmates to say to my daughter, “Hey, when your dad dies your mom can marry my dad then we’ll each have two parents.”

About this time, I purchased a laptop computer that I carried with me and kept hooked up to the phone line in Pedro’s hospital room (wireless networks had recently made their debut). In this way, I could send out emails with up-to-date alerts as to how Pedro fared.

Unbeknownst to me, many people forwarded my emails to their friends, and before I knew it I got emails from strangers in other states and even countries asking to be added to the email list or just dropping me a note to let me know they were praying for Pedro.

Also unbeknownst to me, someone back home started a fund to help our family out. The fund allowed our girls to visit two times during Pedro’s illness—once at very short notice when the doctors advised that the family gather to say their goodbyes.

Social media has undeniable power and clout and it can play an important part in helping you, the caregiver, maintain your sanity (it’s much easier to write an update than it is to answer numerous phone calls) and build a community of boosters who will support you during your season of caregiving. Family members, friends, and even strangers can become a powerful resource for caregivers.

Five Tips for Using Social Media in a Crisis

1. Decide who will keep people informed.

Have a discussion with the person who has cancer and ask them what they want. A close friend who had helped us during Pedro’s illness received a cancer diagnosis several years ago, and she chose to act as gatekeeper to information (her husband had no interest in social media, while she already had a presence online).

2. Choose a social media source for sharing information.

One of my former students enlisted her entire Facebook network to cheer her on in her fight against breast cancer. Other friends from a different generation have chosen to form private, invitation-only groups. The following resources should prove useful:Click the link to find five valuable resources for caregivers. #socialmedia, #caregiver, #caregivers, #cancer

  • Caringbridge.org offers free, personal and protected sites where family members can visit and leave messages of support. The personal site creator can share blog posts and approve those who want to join the site. Caring Bridge also offers a support planner that caregivers can use to organize family and friends who want to volunteer.
  • Facebook.com offers a free social media account. Be judicious with this powerful tool, and pay close attention to privacy settings unless your loved one wants the entire world to know about his/her latest bout with vomiting. You can also use this tool to start a private group.
  • Lotsahelpinghands.com is another free service offered to caregivers. Its primary purpose is to match volunteers with those in need and to help caregivers build a community to help them in their season of caregiving.
  • The phone tree, an old-fashioned but effective method of communicating whereby you enlist the help of several key people who commit to calling people on a list when there is a need to ask for help, prayer or give information. Many faith communities have a phone tree system in place—if you are part of a faith community, check with the leaders to see how the phone tree works.
  •  Email updates still serve as an effective way to keep key people informed.
3. Set boundaries and guidelines.

In retrospect, I don’t think I would have done anything differently. Neither Pedro nor I minded that people from around the world knew about his condition. Whether they were Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or atheist—it felt wonderful to know that people cared. Depending on the wishes of the person you are caring for (or, in the case of a minor, the wishes of both parents), you can limit access to the information you share. Do this by controlling who sees your posts or by including a note at the beginning of each email asking that those who are privy to the information not pass specific information on to others.

4. Get the word out.

Bad news travels fast, so this should pose no problems. Set up an automatic response to all emails informing people that you will be unavailable for a time. Direct them to your caringbridge site for further informaiton (remember, YOU can control who joins sites or groups). You can also prepare a statement and link to text back to those who text you for updates. The same goes for voicemail greetings. I hate talking on the phone, so I’d much rather leave a voicemail message asking people to check out the Internet site.  This frees me up to focus my attention on my loved one.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for specific things.

The power of social media in creating a support system lies in your ability to ask. Generous people will respond.  Ask for specific things. At one point, Pedro’s white blood cell counts weren’t going up at the same time he had a blood yeast infection. I shot off an email asking people to pray that his white blood cell count would go up. Ask for volunteers. If you need someone to take you to the airport or a doctor’s appointment, or babysit your children, don’t be afraid to ask.

Don’t let fear keep you from reaching out to others. If you have other ideas about creating a community of support, please share them with us by commenting below.

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What’s YOUR Caregiver Story?

Caregiver Connections: Caregiver Stories

loneliness
Feeling Lonely? You’re Not Alone!

Whether you’ve eased your way into caregiving for a parent as he or she aged or dropped into the tumultuous sea of caregiving by an unforeseen event (cancer, accident, etc.), you probably know about caregiver loneliness.

Life goes into hyper-focused slow motion in your immediate sphere and seems to keep flying by at warp speed everywhere else. You lose touch with friends. Maybe you question if you even HAVE friends. Days away from work seem more like years. Once easy decisions require more brain power than before. You can’t sleep or you sleep too much. You. feel. so. alone.

But you AREN’T alone! Hundreds of thousands of other caregivers struggle with the same feelings and thoughts. And guess what? YOU can help them! Share you story. Find community. You don’t have to attend a caregiver counseling group (although, if its available in your area, it might prove helpful). Just sharing your story in a safe place goes a long way towards lighting up the lonely edges of your existence.

Even if you no longer care for someone, you might still suffer from ‘Chemo Brain by Proxy‘ (aka, stress or PTSD). Sharing your story helps you process your experience.

Stories from the Caregiver Trenches

Are you a caregiver? Caregiver loneliness can eat away at your soul. Find community with other caregivers. #cancer, #dementia, #mentalillness, #stroke,Rather than spotlight just one story this month, I wanted to share a sampling of stories from bloggers and caregivers that I’ve met over the years.

Karen Sebastian, the ‘Hope Lady,’  has two great series on caregiving, one for the caregiver needing hope, and another for the caregiver who needs to start taking care of herself.

Martha Brady, a retired nurse who cares for her husband, writes about caregiving and grace over at GrittyGrace.com. She wrote an excellent series about self-care for caregivers.

Dr. Michelle Bengtson, a neuropsychiatrist and caregiver, has a plethora of encouraging and enlightening posts for caregivers. You can find them on her blog, Hope Prevails.

When you start feeling isolated and lonely in your caregiving journey, I encourage you to reach out and look for others in the same boat. We have a series of guest posts on the blog from other caregivers in the trenches. You can find their stories here.

Link up Details

Guidelines

In order to make this link up user friendly AND pertinent to caregivers and their needs, please make sure that what you link up follows the guidelines for the week. This week is for CAREGIVER Stories.  Share a link to your story of what it’s like to care for someone else (or have someone else care for you). If you aren’t sure if your link is appropriate, feel free to email me at anita at blessedbutstressed dot com and ask!

We will delete links that aren’t on topic in order to keep the link up a true community resource. We WILL contact you first and let you know that we will remove your link.

For non-caregiving related links, we invite you to participate in the Inspire Me Monday link up over at www.anitaojeda.com.

By linking up, you agree to receive weekly reminders about the link up.

Do look for the caregiver boards on Pinterest.

Do link up more than one post!

Join our Facebook community, too! It’s easy, just click that button over on the right! —->

The whole point of the link up is to make connections and form community with other caregivers, so don’t forget to visit the person who linked up before you as well as the person who linked up after you.

If you read something that moves you, share! Tweet, pin, share on Facebook, whatever it takes to draw others into to our caregiver stories. All too often, caregivers suffer in silence because they don’t think anyone cares to hear their voice. We care! If you’d like to join the Caregiver Connections Pinterest Board (so you can pin your caregiver-related posts), just drop me an email at anita at blessedbutstressed dot com.

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Truth and Grace: the Cornerstones of Surviving as a Caregiver

Caregiver Connections: Encouragement for Caregivers

graceCornerstones of Caregiving: Truth and Grace

They say God provides grace for every moment of a
caregiver’s journey.

True.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Moments of doubt and frustration;
Tired of wearing a happy-face-state-of-grace and tired of
acting like the strong one who could
shoulder the chemo and the radiation and the
tender hearts and cuts and bruises and hurt feelings of
children facing too much too young.grace

And God did provide
Grace for the journey. I knew an
invisible, yet warm and loving hand rested on my
shoulder when I gazed into the future and didn’t know
if Pedro had a next hour, a next minute or a next breath.

Grace looks like casseroles on the front porch, and
money left in books, and early-morning
rides to the airport, and
selfless giving in times of utter darkness.

Nonetheless,
Caregiving creates a loneliness inside, an
utter exhaustion that clouds the picture of grace once the
race for life is won.

True.
God provides grace for the
recovering caregiver’s journey, too. Through
found friends in similar circumstance, a
sympathetic listener who ‘gets’ the term ‘recovering cancer caregiver.’
God provides community to part the clouds so I once again see His
Grace.

How have you discovered God’s grace in your caregiving journey? We’d love to have you share your stories in the comments (or link up if you have a blog!).

Find stories of encouragment (or leave a story of encouragement) at the Caregiver Connections link up today! #caregiver #caregivers Click To Tweet

Caregiver Spotlight

Today’s spotlight shines on Barbara Harper, who blogs over at Stray Thoughts. She compiled a beautiful list of encouraging Bible verses for caregivers. Pop on over to Barabara’s today for some awesome encouragement!

Link-Up!

Guidelines

In order to make this link up user friendly AND pertinent to caregivers and their needs, please make sure that what you link up follows the guidelines for the week. This week is for ENCOURAGEMENT FOR CAREGIVERS.  Share a link that will encourage a caregiver. If you aren’t sure if your link is appropriate, feel free to email me at anita at blessedbutstressed dot com and ask!

We will delete links that aren’t on topic in order to keep the link up a true community resource. We WILL contact you first and let you know that we will remove your link.

For non-caregiving related links, we invite you to participate in the Inspire Me Monday link up over at www.anitaojeda.com.

By linking up, you agree to receive weekly reminders about the link up.

Do look for the caregiver boards on Pinterest.

Do link up more than one post!

Join our Facebook community, too! It’s easy, just click that button over on the right! —->

The whole point of the link up is to make connections and form community with other caregivers, so don’t forget to visit the person who linked up before you as well as the person who linked up after you.

If you read something that moves you, share! Tweet, pin, share on Facebook, whatever it takes to draw others into to our caregiver stories. All too often, caregivers suffer in silence because they don’t think anyone cares to hear their voice. We care! If you’d like to join the Caregiver Connections Pinterest Board (so you can pin your caregiver-related posts), just drop me an email at anita at blessedbutstressed dot com.

 

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The Dangers of Neglecting Self-Care for Caregivers

Taking Care of Yourself isn't Selfish or Indulgent

self-careNeglecting Yourself Can Lead to Weight Gain

I learned the lesson the hard way. When my husband had non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with central nervous system involvement, I didn’t take care of myself. I spent all of my energies taking care of him, trying to keep up with my job, and parent our two young children. As a result, I gained 50 pounds. Those extra 50 pounds hung around and made other aspects of my life more difficult.

self-careWhen Pedro first received his diagnosis, I had just started an exercise program after moving to a new home, new job, and a new state. For the first few months, I kept on exercising. But as his cancer progressed, I used my busyness as an excuse to avoid exercising. Instead, I should have made a firm commitment to exercise vigorously for at least thirty minutes a day. The exercise would have helped regulate my emotions as well as provided a boost to my immune system and metabolism.

During my second caregiver journey (when our college-age daughter had to move home to deal with an undiagnosed mental illness), I made a point to exercise regularly. I managed to not gain weight NOR to turn to overeating as a way to cope with the angst of caregiving.

Overeating often acts as a corrollary to not exercising. During Pedro’s illness I convinced myself (an easy task), that I deserved to eat whatever I wanted to. After all, I had put my life on hold to take care of my husband. I had earned the right to indulge.

This attitude did nothing for my health. It added to my stress as I rapidly went through my wardrobe and had to continue purchasing larger and larger sizes.

Your Attitude about Self-care Makes all the Difference

I discovered during my second caregiving journey the difference making a commitment to self-care could make in my experince. Instead of indulging myself with “I deserve to eat this” statements, I nourised myself with “I only want to feed my body good things” statements.

When I wanted to curl up in a ball of frustration over another argument with my daughter, I chose to go for a run or a long walk instead. I discovered that walking and running (without music or headphones) helped me process my angry, bewildered, frustrated, and unproductive emotions.

These two attitudes—eating to nourish myself and exercising to process emotions—kept me from gaining weight or suffering from caregiver PTSD.

Caregivers who don't take care of themselves soon run out of fuel. #caregiverptsd #caregiver #self-care Click To Tweet

Guidelines

In order to make this link up user friendly AND pertinent to caregivers and their needs, please make sure that what you link up follows the guidelines for the week. This week is for SELF-CARE ADAVICE FOR CAREGIVERS (if your self-care advice has a story wrapped around it, that’s fine). If you aren’t sure if your link is appropriate, feel free to email me at anita at blessedbutstressed dot com and ask!

We will delete links that aren’t on topic in order to keep the link up a true community resource. We WILL contact you first and let you know that we will remove your link. For non-caregiving related links, we invite you to participate in the Inspire Me Monday link up over at www.anitaojeda.com.

By linking up, you agree to receive weekly reminders about the link up.

Do look for the caregiver boards on Pinterest

Do link up more than one post!

Join our Facebook community, too! It’s easy, just click that button over on the right! —->

Community Spotlight

This week’s community spotlight shines on Martha Grimm Brady. She cares for her husband, who suffers from stroke symptoms. This past October she wrote a series on self-care for caregivers on her blog, Gritty Grace. Take a few minutes to visit Martha and read the great advice she has to share.

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Find Valuable Resources at Caregiver Connections

Second Wednesday of the Month Highlights Resources

ResourcesResources for Caregivers

During Pedro’s battle with cancer I often felt clueless. For example, I didn’t know that hospitals made arrangements for air ambulances. I didn’t know that the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society gave grants to help family members travel. The one cancer caregiving resource that I knew about (Ronald McDonald House) didn’t help out families of adults with cancer, so I figured we were on our own.

I didn’t realize that massage, aromatherapy, and essential oils could benefit my husband (and ME, a stressed-out caregiver). Caring Bridge? Never heard of it. I do know that I often felt underwater and on the brink of overwhelm.

Maybe you’ve acted as a caregiver for years, or maybe just a season. Maybe you enjoy researching things, or maybe you just feel a desperate need to figure something out. Whatever the case, we can learn from each other. This week’s link up is specifically for blog posts or pages that have useful resources for caregivers.

A ‘useful resource’ would be a post about how you found help from a helping organizaiton or agency (such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society). It might include lists of local resources, hotlines, blogs you’ve discovered, or advice. If your caregiving journey has included active patricipation in support groups, share your experience with us!

Guidelines

In order to make this link up user friendly AND pertinent to caregivers and their needs, please make sure that what you link up follows the guidelines for the week. This week is for RESOURCES FOR CAREGIVERS (if your resource has a story wrapped around it, that’s fine). If you aren’t sure if your link is appropriate, feel free to email me at anita at blessedbutstressed dot com and ask!

We will delete links that aren’t on topic in order to keep the link up a true community resource. We WILL contact you first and let you know that we will remove your link. For non-caregiving related links, we invite you to participate in the Inspire Me Monday link up over at www.anitaojeda.com.

By linking up, you agree to receive weekly reminders about the link up.

Do look for the caregiver boards on Pinterest

Do link up more than one post!

Join our Facebook community, too! It’s easy, just click that button over on the right! —->

Community Spotlight

This week’s spotlight shines on Dr. Michelle Bengtson, a neuropsychologist, writer, and caregiver. She interviewed a dementia caregiver, and in this post, the caregiver shares resources for dementia caregivers. Make sure you check out both the article and Dr. Bengtson’s blog!

Link up Schedule:

1st Wednesday of the month: Caregiver Stories

2nd Wednesday of the month: Resources

3rd Wednesday of the month: Caregiver Self-care

4th Wednesday of the month: Caregiver Encouragement

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We Can All Agree that Caregiving is Tough

Welcome to Caregiver Connections

caregiver connectionsMaybe You’re a Caregiver and You Didn’t Even Realize it!

We all might not agree on politics, religion, or even who should have won the Super Bowl. I think we can all agree that caregiving can wear a person down. But first of all, what defines a caregiver? Literally, ‘caregiver’ is someone who gives care to another person. I would argue that a caregiver is someone who gives that care for free, usually to a family member.

A caregiver takes on the extra responsibility for a family member who can no longer take care of herself at her usual capacity. Even if the person being cared for can do some things by herself, whoever takes up the slack turns into a caregiver.

Parents with a special needs child act as caregivers, too. Their responsibilites go above and beyond the usual rounds of what most parents do.  In addition to all that parenting entails, they have to learn new strategies for dealing with a child’s fragile health or emotional state. They have to deal with the glares from others who don’t understand that their child (who looks normal) might have special needs.

We Can All Agree that Caregiving Takes a Toll

Whether we care for an ill husband, a parent with Alzheimer’s or dimentia, or a special needs child, we can all agree that caregiving takes a toll. One of the worst parts of caregiving involves the isolation. We wonder if anyone else has ever experienced the guilt, the loneliness, the frustration, the anger, and the exhaustion that we experience. Yes! They do!

That’s what Caregiver Connection is all about! The theme for the first Wednesday of each month is caregiver stories. If you’re a caregiver, or a caregiver has touched your life in a special way, this week is for you. Link up your honest stories of what caregiving looks like for you, from the trenches.

Join #CaregiverConnections and find community with other #caregivers! #caregiver #community #mentalhealth #cancer #TBI Click To Tweet

This Week’s Spotlight

This week’s featured story comes from Dana Butler, who’s beautiful, honest post about the toll caring for their two special needs kids caught my eye last week. Click on over to Dana’s space and find out what it’s like to parent special-needs children. Her story will amaze you and move you as you see God working in her life.
Guidelines

In order to make this link up user friendly AND pertinent to caregivers and their needs, please make sure that what you link up follows the guidelines for the week. This week is for CAREGIVER Stories.  Share a link to your story of what it’s like to care for someone else (or have someone else care for you). If you aren’t sure if your link is appropriate, feel free to email me at anita at blessedbutstressed dot com and ask!

We will delete links that aren’t on topic in order to keep the link up a true community resource. We WILL contact you first and let you know that we will remove your link.

For non-caregiving related links, we invite you to participate in the Inspire Me Monday link up over at www.anitaojeda.com.

By linking up, you agree to receive weekly reminders about the link up.

Do look for the caregiver boards on Pinterest.

Do link up more than one post!

Join our Facebook community, too! It’s easy, just click that button over on the right! —->

The whole point of the link up is to make connections and form community with other caregivers, so don’t forget to visit the person who linked up before you as well as the person who linked up after you.

If you read something that moves you, share! Tweet, pin, share on Facebook, whatever it takes to draw others into to our caregiver stories. All too often, caregivers suffer in silence because they don’t think anyone cares to hear their voice. We care! If you’d like to join the Caregiver Connections Pinterest Board (so you can pin your caregiver-related posts), just drop me an email at anita at blessedbutstressed dot com.

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The End of an Era and Making New Connections

endingAn Ending…

For over four years Blessed (but Stressed) has hosted the Inspire Me Monday linkup—sometimes other bloggers have acted as co-hosts, sometimes not. We’ve loved making connections with all of you! For the past two years, writers and readers have found community over at www.anitaojeda.com, as well.

I started the other blog in 2016 in order to find an outlet for my creative writing (Carol has a blog in the works, too). We’ve decided that we want to dedicate this space to caregiving and caregivers. Therefore, it makes more sense to stop hosting Inspire Me Monday here, and host it exclusively over at www.anitaojeda.com (and eventually on Carol’s blog, as well).

Thank you to all of you who have faithfully linked up over the years. If you’ve never checked out my other space, that’s where you’ll find the Inspire Me Monday linkup starting on February 4. This will be the last week that we host Inspire Me Monday here at Blessed (but Stressed).

…and a New Beginning With New Connections

connections

We’re excited to announce that we’ll start hosting a new link up, exclusively for posts by and for caregivers called ‘Caregiver Connections.’

The feelings of isolation that accompany the caregiving journey can overwhelm us at times. We’d like to provide a place for caregivers to find and read others’ stories. Or, if you’ve discovered a great resource or way to do something that other caregivers might benefit from, we want Caregiver Connections to be the go-to place for finding that information.

In order to make it easier for those visiting to find the kinds of posts they’re looking for, we’ll have a theme for each week.

First Wednesday of the month: Caregiver Stories

Share your personal stories of how caregiving has changed you or helped you to grow.

Second Wednesday of the month: Resources for Caregivers

Share your tips and hacks for making life easier as a caregiver. This can be healthy Instant Pot recipies, organizational hacks, or advice on handling insurance companies or other family members.

Third Wednesday of the month: Caregiver Self-Care

Share your tips and hacks for taking care of yourself as a caregiver. It’s not easy, and we need all of the help we can get!

Fourth Wednesday of the month: Caregiver Encouragement

You’ve been there, you’ve done that! One of the worst parts of caregiving is thinking that you’re alone. How can you encourage fellow caregivers?

Weekly Featured Blogs

Each week we’ll feature a post by a fellow caregiver. Sign up here to receive notifications of the link up each week. By sharing our stories and our experiences, we can make the lives of other caregivers just a little easier.

Sign up to get weekly reminders!

Look for an email each Wednesday to remind you to link up your caregiver-related blog posts.

Each week we'll have a theme as well as feature one blog post from the previous week that best embodies the previous week's theme.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

So, please join us next Wednesday, February 7, for the first ever Caregiver Connection link up!


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Caregiver Loneliness Can Delay YOUR Recovery

Five Tips for Avoiding Isolation

loneliness

Take a Peek at Caregiver Loneliness

ICU minutes stretch like bubblegum—at some point, I know they’ll burst and slap more messiness into my life. I wait, lonely in the busiest place on the planet, for the nurses to allow me back into Pedro’s room. The tubes cascade out of his mouth, bringing life and hope that I won’t have to face the future alone.

***

Hospital minutes twang with anxiety—Pedro’s not in ICU any more, but nurses rush in on quiet feet each time I press the call button. Days have passed since he knew that I sit next to him, counting each breath and movement—hoping that this crisis will pass. The beeps of his vitals accompany my prayers. The loneliness presses in—squeezing hope into the corners.

 ***

I am on a highway, looking towards a bright future, yet time whizzes past me in a blur. I tend to Pedro’s needs during my lunch break, than hurry back to work. The four of us (Pedro, Laura, Sarah and I) relish his recovery, and long for time to regain its measured pace. Normalcy dances within reach, yet I feel lonelier than when minutes stretched like bubblegum.

The bills, the burdens, the new normal, all build an invisible wall between me and everyone else. No one understands the sheer panic a sneeze or a sniffle produces in my mind. No one understands the confusion of no longer living in panic mode.

I blindly hang on to the one constant from my journey. I know I have never been alone. Never been forsaken. But MY road to recovery is a lonely one. #caregiver Click To Tweet

Lessons Learned in Retrospect

Fifteen years have passed since Pedro’s stem-cell transplant saved his life. For him, recovery lasted about a year. For me? A lot longer. Cancer and other catastropic illnesses can act as blinders for the caregiver. We hyper-focus on the tasks at hand: taking care of our loved one, finding answers, and willing them to live. We forget that the world continues while we fight an isolated battle.

In retrospect, I would have done things a bit differently.

1). I would have found a support group for cancer caregivers.

I don’t know if they didn’t exist at the time of Pedro’s illness, or if I just didn’t see signs offering help. A few years after his recovery, I went to the same hospital and noticed posters all over the place for caregiver support groups. It would have been helpful to know that I wasn’t the only one having all the feelings that accompany caregiving.loneliness

2). I would have taken more interest in my friends.

Pedro’s illness took place before the advent Facebook and Instagram, so keeping in touch with friends meant phoning or writing letters. Nowadays, constant communication takes very little time and effort. You can take an interest in other people’s lives while you wait.

3) Make an effort to keep in touch with friends and family on a regular basis about non-caregiver related things.

This seems counterintuitive, because your world seems consumed by caregiving matters. But if you come out of the bubble, you’ll find connection with others that will help you when the crisis has ended and you return to normal life.

4) Don’t be afraid to ask for prayer for yourself.

I had no problems asking for prayer for Pedro and his specific needs. I had no idea that I could ask for prayer for myself. You can ask to join our Blessed (but Stressed) group of caregivers on Facebook. We pray for each other every Wednesday.

5) Acknowledge that YOU need time to recover, too.

Hopefully, if you take care of yourself during your journey (I didn’t), you’ll find that recovery takes less time. By staying connected with friends and family about non-caregiver related things, you won’t feel so isolated when your caregiving duties have ended. You’ll find it easier to resume activities that feel ‘normal’ to you, thus decreasing your sense of isolation and loneliness.

Know a Caregiver?

Do you know a caregiver?  Have you wondered if he or she might might suffer from caregiver loneliness?  What can YOU do to help? Don’t feel rejected if your caregiver friend seems distant and unresponsive. Keep reaching out! Caregivers suffer from loneliness but often don’t know how to express their feelings. They need YOU!


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Why You Should Forget About New Year’s Resolutions

Brainstorm Solutions, Instead

ResolutionKiss Resolutions Goodbye!

For years I made New Year’s resolutions: lose weight, start an exercise program, have better health, give up chocolate, and myriad other impossible proclamations.  While my husband recovered from his stem-cell transplant, I spent all of my spare time in bed. I felt grumpy and depressed and weighed fifty pounds more than I should. All of my resolutions clustered around me, tying me to my perpetual inaction.

And then I learned a secret.  ‘Resolution’ simply means to decide on a course of action—there’s nothing to ensure that I stay on course.  Lofty plans sound great on December 31, but without action they fall by the wayside quicker than couch potatoes running a 5K.

‘Solution,’ on the other hand, means ‘the act of solving a problem’ or ‘the state of being solved.’  Action equals motion.  This year, decide on solutions to problems and ditch the resolutions. Start with a list of things you’d like to accomplish, and then brainstorm ways to make those things happen. Don’t focus on your goal, though. You might end up feeling overwhelmed.

Focus on the little changes that you can make each day that add up to big changes over a long period of time. Those daily choices add up. Give yourself grace during your journey to forming new habits.

Resolutions

 

Changes Don’t Happen Overnight

Since saying ‘Adios!’ to New Year’s Resolutions, and acting to solve problems I saw in my life, I’ve lost those fifty extra pounds, lowered my cholesterol and learned that chocolate isn’t the enemy. I have more solutions to work out in my life, but I’m not the grumpy, frumpy middle-aged lump I used to be.

You can find out more about learning to really nurture yourself over at my other blog. On my journey, I’ve discovered lots of solutions to adding extra movement into my life and finding healthier ways to deal with stress.

Whether you’re a busy mom or a stressed-out caregiver, remember to give yourself grace for your journey. Change takes time (more than the month of January) in order to remain permanent. If you’d like to find a grace-filled support group, check out Faithful Finish Lines and their two-week FREE Grace Camp (affiliate link).

True change takes time! Give yourself grace, and don't try to accomplish everything in the just one month! #newyearsresolutions #solutions Click To Tweet

You can also download the printable graphic right here:





 

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