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.

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


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