I don’t know about you, but there are times when my energy levels simply dip and it feels as though my motivation and get up and go has got up and gone. There are times when everything feels too much; too much of an uphill struggle, too much of a battle, too relentless. And in those times I also fight overwhelming feelings of guilt and failure.
I shouldn’t feel this way, should I? After all I dearly love my kids, why can’t I just enjoy every minute like I feel should, why does it all get so negative?
At times I need to be reminded of these 3 basic things.
I’m not alone
Maybe we don’t talk openly about this as much as we should. But years of walking alongside other families, other caregivers like me, show me I’m not the only one that goes through this. I also pray, holding onto the promise I believe that God says he will not leave or forsake me. I look again at the many characters in the Bible stories who God was faithfully present with against all the odds. My favorite is Elijah when he wants to give up and face plants the dust. God gets it, dusts him down and tucks him in for a well needed sleep. There are also others I can talk to now who understand, who have been there and will go there again.
Finding those people, whether through an online community or a local support group has been really important. They are the ones to message or meet up with when things get tough. They will remind me I’m not alone.
Self-care is not selfish
Sleep deprivation is no joke, the physical and psychological effects are real. It is not selfish to recognize my need for rest in the middle of all the demands on my time and energy as I care for others. I need healthy energy giving food as well as my emergency chocolate supply. I need space to catch my breath just for a second every now and then.
The logistics of self-care as a caregiver are not at all easy but when I can find a moment I want to remind myself that taking that opportunity for a space, a snack or a snooze is not selfish but important. It’s part of what keeps me resilient, it is needed to stay healthy.
Look for the blessings
When things feel negative it’s all too easy to only see the difficult bits and not notice the little joys. I feel cross when I hear myself remind myself to look for the blessings but I know full well that unless I make the decision to find even just a few each day the negative spiral gains pace.
One of the ways I have found that helps me get going is to try and be more mindful as I go about the everyday. During the day asking myself what 5 things I can see, what 4 things I can hear, what 3 things I can touch, what 2 things I can do, what 1 thing I can smell. Being intentionally more aware of my interaction with the world around me often opens me up to begin seeing the little moments of beauty, joy and peace again. It grounds me and reminds me there are blessings around me and dotted in and through each day that can refresh and nurture me.
Written by Cathy Porter