Helping the busy woman caregiver take the time to fill her own cup FIRST so she can be an effective caregiver while pursuing her passion and goals. The podcast's focus is on mindset, guilt, mastering time, setting boundaries and maintaining healthy habits. Listen weekly to personal experiences, tips, inspiration, real stories, and interviews.
Am I In A Funk Or Burnt Out?
In today’s episode let's unpack being in a funk, or is it depression, or is the root cause burnout.
A slump, rut, funk (or general feeling of weirdness) is a fairly short lived bad day or bad couple of days. Sometimes our slumps can be reactions to something that happened to us. Maybe you're feeling lonely in quarantine or your caregiving situation or you're upset because you were passed up time with friends since you can’t leave your loved one at home.
Everyone has off days where they feel tired, irritable, and sad. It’s normal to feel sadness as a response to challenging life events , but sometimes these feelings can stick around for a while if left unaddressed and make it difficult for you to get through each day.
Depression impacts almost every part of your life, interfering with how you think, feel, and go about your daily activities like sleeping, working, and socializing. Some common symptoms of depression include: feeling “empty”, lack of energy, difficulty concentrating , difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than normal, changes in appetite or weight, feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in hobbies or activities , irritability or restlessness, aches and pains without clear physical causes or thoughts of death or suicide.
Although some people’s depression can be influenced by major life events, or brought on my your caregiver situation like seeing your loved one sick or being isolated and more. The truth is that depression can happen to anyone without cause or warning.
It’s important to note that depression exists on a scale from mild to severe, but even in mild cases it should be taken seriously. Depression is not simply a “bad mood” or something that someone can “snap out of,” but luckily it is very treatable.
Self-care is a key component to living a happy, healthy life and between your diet, exercise, daily routines, and social interactions there are plenty of steps you can take to influence your mood. As you move through your depression, be open to trying new approaches.
1. Eat a Healthy Diet
2. Moving your body
3. Sun and Fresh Air
4. Get Quality Sleep
5. Socialize with Friends and Family
6. Plan Fun Activities
7. Be Kind to Yourself
Any level of depression should be taken seriously. Seeking professional help is a sign of bravery and self-respect because it shows that you are dedicated to caring for your mind and body. Everyone experiences low points in their life and their mental health, but depression is a treatable mental illness and you can recover.
Another thing to consider is.. are you burning yourself out. Burnout is caused by excess stress over a sustained period of time. It can make us feel drained, foggy-headed, unable to cope, and this can lead to compassion fatigue, or losing the will to care for your loved one.
Caregivers often put the needs and interests of their loved one ahead of themselves, neglecting their own wellbeing in the process. Having unrealistic expectations is one reason that may contribute to the stress that caregivers face.
Warning Signs of Caregiver Burnout are lack of energy, overwhelming fatigue, sleep problems, changes in eating habits, feelings of hopelessness, withdrawing from, or losing interest in, activities you once enjoyed, neglecting your own physical and emotional needs, feeling like caregiving is controlling your life, becoming unusually impatient, irritable or argumentative , anxiety, depression or mood swings, difficulty coping with everyday things, headaches, stomachaches, and other physical problems. or lowered resistance to illness.
Oftentimes, a caregiver is unable to recognize that they’re inching toward burnout. Caregiving is a long long journey and you have to learn fast that you have to manage your own well-being first.
Dealing With New Challenges
How do you carry on when times are hard or you received more bad news or the challenges are becoming heavier every day and it feels like nothing is going to change. Unfortunately bad news or challenges happen to people every day.
The worst thing you can do in challenges and difficult times is hide away. But it’s often what we want to do. We don’t want to talk to anyone. They won’t understand what you are going through or your thoughts are silly. If I talk to someone, it will be painful so laying in bed and hiding away feels better. But reality is someone understands what you're going through.
Science has proven that the healthiest and most effective way to get through tough times is to get support. To ask family and friends for support.
The most important thing is to realize you are not alone.
The second thing is to define the meaning. Ask yourself , what does this truly mean to me. What is actually happening and how is this affecting me.
But once you reflect on it and find positive meaning from your challenge or situation, you will get strong and it will teach you something and maybe even give you a new hurdle or purpose. There will be something there for you - just think, maybe it will give you more patience, or kindness or you will find new love.
Hold on to the good happening around you in this difficult time. It may be hard to see all of it right now, but just make note of it and when things are better, you can go back and reflect on you and how this have positively affected you and all the good people around you are doing.
You have to realize you have the power of choice. You can react to the situation negatively - bitter, anger, sadness, resentment, or you can choose to start your transformation with positive energy.
How many times in your caregiving have you heard the words “New Normal”? Or your new reality It’s true that life is no longer as it once was. If you are going through new challenges, Your daily routine has changed and so has your thought process. Well now that is all changing. Most adults don’t like change.
Instead, I'm going to look at this as a new chapter and a new beginning. The definition of “New Beginning” is a start. the point at which something begins. It’s filled with apprehension, anxiety, fear of the unknown. Don’t most New Beginnings start out that way? I think I prefer the term New Beginning. Just the words alone bring a sound of HOPE!
In this New Beginning, nerve wracking emotions are coming into play. Things will settle down in due time; but until then, it’s “one day at a time.” We’ve heard that before, too, right? The New Beginning will have a few obstacles here and there; but with perseverance, I’ll see the fight I never knew you had in you.
With each New Beginning, you learn something: how much stronger you were than you ever imagined. You’re grateful for another day, another chance at life as you continue your fight.
Those New Beginnings can bring sadness with an unexpected setback, but give you HOPE for a recovery. New Beginnings can let you see the simplest things in a different light—a new appreciation of something you used to take for granted. Each day is an opportunity for a New Beginning!
Lao Tzu, a philosopher and poet, said: “New Beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.” They certainly can be. However, every day is a New Beginning to start over. Your New Beginning is your life! If you are having a bad day, struggling, maybe having a setback, having trouble coping, remember another New Beginning is on the horizon. It’s called…Tomorrow!
Navigating Changes to Your Caregiver Role
It’s strange to plan out the next 6 weeks of your life. It’s figuring out everything. Denis won’t be able to come home and if I do, it will be for a short day or so (if that’s even possible). I sure wish it was planning a trip for 6 weeks vs this
The unknown and uncertainty can bring up a whole lot of things. Emotions, anxiety, stress, and more. But it also can be a reminder that we don’t have control over what happens.
To be honest, I hate it. I want to be in the driver’s seat. And If I can’t drive, I want to be sitting in the passenger seat, giving them the navigation instructions. The transplant coordinator is scheduling everything out right now. Dates, times, a calendar that looks like a project plan. But the plan also reminds me of a school schedule - each day is a time/ procedure, location (building, floor, room and where to park each day). Each procedure has preparation, during care and after care instructions.
At any given time as a caregiver, our loved ones disease, illness and path can change. When that happens, our role as a caregiver changes. Just when you think you are “getting it” and mastering all the skillsets, it changes. Your caregiver role pushes you to another level and you may not even asked for it.
As I am reading this Blood and Marrow Transplant / Autologous Transplant Guidebook this week, it had over 300 pages of very good information explaining the process, procedures, and therapies. It goes over diets, resources, maps, and all the care instructions from pre transplant through post transplant. But again, what I found is that there is very little information for caregiver instructions.
People who undergo a transplant need a personal caregiver to help with their treatment and recovery. Your caregiver should be a responsible family member or friend who can provide physical care, observation, and emotional support for you throughout the transplant process. As part of planning ahead for your transplant, it is important to decide who can be your caregiver.
This next stage of my journey is like a new job and the job description isn’ written. I kind of know what I have to do but not exactly. So I took a step back and listed out my new responsibilities
Getting him to every apt and accompanying as his advocateProviding emotional supportPhysical care (meds, cooking, bathing, cleaning, laundry), monitoring his medical changesAt lodging and at home care will look different - grocery shopping, pharmacy Home - maintenance for next 6 monthsHome sitter and dog sitter Communication with doctors and coordinatorsInsurance process, filing claimsFinding time for myself - volunteer services As caregivers, we'll never be able to figure it all out. But we have to do our best. Part of doing our best is being real with ourself and the situation. Things will not go as planned and you can’t control everything. What I know I can control is myself. There will be down time and I need to take advantage of that. I know what works for me - exercise, eating well, journaling and rest.
Let me share Maya Angelou’s quote "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. "
Embrace This Year With A New Perspective
In the last episode, I shared my opinion of a new years resolution. Although I think setting goals and committing to something is super healthy for you, it may be hard to commit to a resolution right now as a caregiver. That’s why I love the idea of choosing a word or words of the year.
Are you ready to hear mine? Can you guess what mine might me?
Remember the steps in picking your word from the last episode (reflect, visualize, create a list, review, revise and narrow it down).
My first word is simplify. Knowing that I have 6 very hard weeks ahead, it’s forcing me to simplify my life. Everything from packing, slowing down my appointments and calendar, to my expectations. My focus will be on my spouse and my health.
You will see me slowing down a bit on facebook and instagram. I am not going to hold myself to the pressures to post daily - if I do, it will be a gift and I will celebrate with you. All of my major communications will be in an email weekly. So if you are not part of my email list, drop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get you added.
Secondly, I so wanted to launch The Caregiver Cup Program again in February, but I will be pushing it back a month (I think). I just don’t think I can give you the entire experience until Denis is home. But one thing I am not quitting and will continue to share is my podcast. The big difference is only doing Tuesday episodes right now. I loved doing 2 days a week but this past week was a big wake up call. I don’t want to let you down again. So by focusing on 1 a week, I can deliver a quality episode vs flying by the seat of my pants.
My second word this year is respite. When I sole searched this one I know important rest, relaxation and sitting still is for me. I have to be honest - I can’t sit still. I know I have ADD and it drives me crazy to just sit. I am also a people pleaser and not always helping with everything makes me feel guilty.
What are your words or word? It’s not too late for you.
2022 is a new start and new beginning for many of us. But for many it’s just a page on the calendar. Did you do the second part of the last episode?
You are hearing a lot of ppl saying they just want to get over 2021. They are so over it all and want a fresh start. Let’s get real. It wasn’t all that bad. I suggested you take a few moments and highlight your 2021. It a beautiful journal of the year that you will have for yourself.
Highlights of the yearChallenges It’s funny when you look back the little challenges don’t seem as big now as they were back then. But the high hitters for me were big. Proud moments Which leads me to my proud moments. I hope you really focus on this one. I am so grateful My heart is so full but I keep making room for more gratitude. It is a constant learning process to let in gratitude before challenges and sadness. So as you move into this new year, I hope you embrace this year with a new perspective with a focus on you first. Caregiving can be a beautiful gift to your loved one. But it’s also important to make sure you gift yourself with what you need during this time.
Bring Focus And Clarity To Your New Year
In just a few days, we welcome in a new year, 2022. A new year means new year’s eve celebrations or a quiet night at home. For others it’s just a change on the calendar and to remember putting 2022 on documents vs 2021.
It also can mean
New year’s resolutions,A fresh start, andThinking back on the last year.For me the New Year is all of these combined. As caregivers , we can think through these to improve our situations.
1. New Year’s Resolutions. Take them or leave them. So if you are setting a new year’s resolution think through your thoughts, motivation and commitment.
For me this year, I’m choosing a word of focus. I love the idea of choosing a Word of the Year vs. New Year’s Resolution because it helps bring focus and clarity to what we want to create in our lives.
Here are a few easy steps to choosing your word of the year.
Reflect on this past year and ask yourself questions. What could I use more of in my life and caregiver life? What could I use less of in my life and caregiver life? What characteristics would I like to have? By the end of the day, I feel (fill in the blank). How do I want to feel?Visualize what the perfect day would feel like. Create a list of the words that come to mind, no self-editing! Review and refine your list Do any of the words jump out at you, make you feel excited, nervous, scared, uncomfortable, or at ease? Sometimes the words that scare us most can mean we’re on the right track because change isn’t always easy. At the same time, I think finding your word can also bring peace and empowerment. Think about the words, try them on, and see what feels right. What’s your 2022 Word of the Year? Which word can you say you’re 100% committed to? Choose that 1 or 3.
2. Next a new year can mean a fresh start. A new year is a new beginning. It's like a new birth. As the new year begins, we feel that we need to make changes in our life, start on a new path, do new things, and say goodbye to old habits, problems and difficulties.
Often, we start making new plans and new resolutions. We might feel elated, inspired and hopeful, but sometimes also apprehensive.
But this may be time to make changes. It may be your time to look at what’s work and what’s not working. You could even get your loved one involved.
3. The most impactful to do this time of year is reflecting back on the year. Whether this year is one that you want to say good-bye to or one that you thought was one of your best year’s ever, it’s really impactful to think back on it.
What were the highlights of the year? The happy celebrations (weddings, birthdays, babies, anniversaries, etc) What were the challenges, sad times, hard times and more? This may bring back some tears and emotions. But there is something therapeutic about writing things out. Now, write down your proud moments. What make you proud of YOU? Your accomplishments, your strength and courage, your drive, what you were able to overcome. What are you grateful for in 2021. End with this one. All your gratitude in 2021. This may be the same as a highlight but it also may be for your garden, walks, or your parent or loved one or your doctor team or a friend. Those people you have in your life now that you didn’t have in 2020. The new year can be a great fresh start or a time to reflect and a time for change. Take one of these today and walk into 2022 with joy, positivity and purpose.
Don't Let The Grinch Steal Your Caregiver Joy
Every year, before Christmas, I get that feeling. That warm and fuzzy feeling that Christmas is coming. Even as an adult. I get kinda excited. Today, running errands and listening to Christmas music, got me thinking back to my childhood memories.
This time of year seems so magical. I so remember Christmas Eve Day waking up and could hardly wait to go to my Grandma’s house. That’s when it all started. (explain gramma Z)
Do you still get that fuzzy feeling, Friend?
But then reality kicks in. This year may look different for you? It may not even feel like the Christmases of your pasts.
If you are feeling like the Grinch stole your Christmas, you are not alone.
As caregivers (or as we age), the holidays no longer seem very jolly, and we don’t feel like celebrating much anymore. What used to be a joyous occasion can change and take on new meanings as life throws us curve balls.
We think we’re supposed to be exceptionally happy this time of year, but that expectation alone can cause people of all ages to become sad or depressed. Caregivers and our loved ones are especially susceptible to the holiday blues.
While the holidays may not be the same as they were in the past, there can still be plenty of reasons to celebrate. One of the most important things to remember is that it’s okay to enjoy them as they are now. Old memories hold a special place in your heart, but there is always enough room to add new ones.
What can you do to find bits of joy this holiday season and reduce holiday stress and the holiday blues. Let me share just a few things I'm practicing this holiday season.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Be realistic. Accept help when others offer it and ask for help when you need it. Do not feel guilty for picking and choosing which holiday plans you and your loved one can commit to. Be grateful for the little things. Before I end this episode, just 2 days before Christmas, I want to thank you for being my listener. I am truly blessed to have this platform and for you to listen. If there is every anything you want to hear, please reach out.
Merriest of the holidays to you and your loved one. I wish you peace, hope and a joyful Christmas.
Useful and uplifting!
The topics on this show speak to caregivers at every stage of their journey. Cathy curates such thoughtful topics and shares them with heart and hope. A top podcast for me.
Real-life stories of inspiration for caregivers!
Cathy brings so much value to the caregiver’s journey with this podcast. Love the inspirational stories, the advice, and much needed support she gives!
So many women need this!
I LOVE that your busting this topic right open! I NEVER hear this part of the conversation. The “how are you holding it together, are you holding it together, and how you CAN” side of a the conversation.
Great job reminding her of what she can do to take care of herself in the process.