I’ve never been a believer in thinking up New Year’s resolutions because for one thing, they’re usually the stuff I’ve been trying to accomplish or delete all year long, and stressing over it during the last few days of every year, when life is stressful enough, just seems counterproductive to me. Having said that, some of my friends make them, and find the annual deadline helpful. Some even achieve them! Today’s Caregiver Magazine (who gave us an award for our book — thanks thanks!) has the same kind of suggestions that we, and virtually every other person who has done/seen or been recruited into caregiving subscribes to. If you’re a January 1-resolution-person, AND are a caregiver (though many of them work just as well for those who are simply trying to improve our own lives and live the best way we can day by day), they’re spot-on.
We are grateful to everyone for taking time to read our daily post during the month of November for National Family Caregiver Month. We hope you found the posts inspirational and have learned not to sweat the small stuff and to realize you cannot fix everything. When you begin to feel stress, STOP and take 3 deep breaths to center yourself.
As we approach the Holiday Season we would like to share an old post: Sue’s Favorite Smoothie to give your immune system a boost.
Sue’s Favorite Smoothie
I have never been a fan of taking multi vitamins for several reasons: cost; the neon colored urine, which seems unnatural; and honestly, I forget to take the darn pills. For me making a smoothie is easy, plus I can control what I put into the smoothie (and my urine does not change colors — unless you add beets, which I don’t, I prefer to eat them!).
Greens: A handful. I use lacinato kale or spinach or a combination
Blueberries: 6-10 berries. I use frozen unless in season…
Fresh fruit in season
Flax seed oil: one tablespoon
Cinnamon: one teaspoon
Tumeric powder: one teaspoon
Protein powder: I use 2 Tablespoons of plant-based protein
Almond milk: between ½ to one cup depending on the fresh fruit used and
the desired consistency.
Blend together and enjoy
Greens: I prefer Lucinato Kale because I find it to be less bitter tasting then curly kale. Greens help detoxify the body, give you energy, helps with digestion and strengthens the immune system.
Banana: Rich in Potassium and vitamin B6, helps support heart function.
Blueberry: An antioxidant and some Vitamin C
Flax seed oil: Omega 3 thus it helps lower cholesterol
Cinnamon: Supports heart health, known to lower cholesterol
What Matters Most? Making care of yourself a priority.
As we wrap up the daily posts for The National Family Caregiver Month, it seems fitting to repeat the words of wisdom from the experts who contributed to our blog.
We asked the following caregiving leaders: If you could give a caregiver only ONE piece of advice for their self-care, what would it be?
Gary Barg: CEO of Caregiver.com and Today Caregiver’s Magazine:
The most important thing you can do to support the loved one for whom you care is to care for yourself as well.
Dr Bernie Seigel: Retired surgeon and author of numerous books on the relationship between the patient and the healing process. He is best known for his book Love, Medicine and Miracles.
I am a caregiver for my wife, 50 years of MS. When going through hell ask yourself what am I to learn from this experience. Learn to surrender you can’t fix everything.
Marian Grant: Director of Policy and Professional Engagement at The Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC).
My advice would be that caring for a loved one is like running a marathon and you have to pace yourself. It will do no one any good if the caregiver sacrifices their health and well being for their loved one as both will suffer. Of course, this is easier said than done, but most caregivers in a longterm caregiving situation figure this out.
The theme here is clear self care for a caregiver is paramount to surviving and maintaining yourself in order to be an effective, healthy and balanced caregiver.
What Matters Most?Attitude, balance, connections, peace and love.
If you enjoy rushing through an open store door after standing in line all night (perhaps in the cold) to get ‘the big bargain’ more power to you! Different strokes for different folks makes the world go round. Before you get lost in traffic jams and frustrated crowds, consider this: While you are out doing holiday shopping for loved ones, don’t forget the family member who is a 24/7 caregiver! Grab a gift and drop it off after shopping to show your appreciation for the good care they are providing a loved one. Do you have a loved one living in a long term care facility? Pick up some of their favorite food and drop by for a visit. Have a meal delivered to the home of the caregiver and loved one. If you are visiting from out of town offer a respite to the caregiver or have someone provide respite and take the caregiver out to dinner and a movie.
What matters most? Remembering those family members making it possible for you to participate in Black Friday
The 1994 edition of the Webster’s Dictionary defines thanksgiving as follows: 1.the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, esp to God. 2. an expression of thanks, esp to God. 3. A public celebration in acknowledgement of divine favor or kindness.
Thanksgiving is a good day to reflect on gratitude, not forced but offered. Today roll it back to the basics, go back to the adage: it’s the little things that matter most.
Consider the five senses.
Nose. Start with being grateful for the breath; so obvious and yet taken for granted. Smells wafting from the kitchen, flowers, perfume and COFFEE!
Eyes that see colors, brightness, sunsets, faces, smiles and reflection in the mirror
Ears that hear sounds, voices, music, laughter and silence
Mouth that tastes, speaks, sings and kisses
Hands hold, touch, pet, lift and applaud
Expanding from the five senses, consider health, focusing on the positive. Thanks for family, friends and extended family. For a new day, a pet to cuddle with, for a warm bed, for shelter (thinking about those with none), for being a caregiver. Make a list in your journal at the end of the day. When you are having a difficult time, referring back to what you wrote can be beneficial.
There are days when you feel like a hamster on a wheel, spinning and going nowhere. Wandering in the house from room to room forgetting your intention, which becomes clear when you return to where you started. By the end of the day all the back and forth can leave you feeling both exhausted and unproductive. Providing service to a loved one can also leave a feeling of anxiety and insecurity. How do yo have fewer struggles and find ease?
Explore where you are.
Ask yourself where you want to be.
Find a goal that is uplifting and feels good.
Seek understanding and compassion.
Reconnect with yourself and loved one through meditation or prayer
Here we are on day 22 with the Holidays approaching. Is drama the family’s normal state of being during the holidays? Are they restless? Do they flame childhood squabbles to create attention focused on them? Do you feel completely drained after the day is over?
Finding peace within yourself is one solution. Taking a vacation from the crazy family holiday is another. Being a 24/7 caregiver can be challenging enough, so don’t invite discord into your life. If the family insists on visiting, this could be a good time for you to take a well-deserved break. Leave. Take a drive or a long walk.
Remember…. You cannot control them (and you will NEVER fix them). You CAN take care of yourself, which is what you need to do to take care of your loved one once the holidays are over. You can choose do to what feels better for you!
What Matters Most? Finding your peace in the chaos.