Why Essential Oils Are Essential For Stressed-Out, Overwhelmed Family Caregivers and Former Family Caregivers

Why Essential Oils Are Essential For Stressed-Out, Overwhelmed Family Caregivers and Former Family Caregivers

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again . . . caregiving is hard.

 

But you didn’t need me to tell you that. You already know. You’re the expert. You live it. 24/7.

 

And let’s be honest, even if your caregiving fairy godmother suddenly, magically appeared in your living room and

told you that with a wave of her wand you’d be relieved of all you caregiving duty, likely you wouldn’t accept it. After all, this is your mother, your father, a sibling or a spouse, that we’re talking about.

 

It’s the very person you love so dearly, which is why being a family caregiver is just SO challenging. But yet, you do it because you have to because you wouldn’t feel right if you didn’t, even when your loved one is speaking hurtfully to you, even when he/she is insulting you.

 

But all of it – the daily grind: the running to appointments, the checking in, the fighting with insurance companies – all of it is takes a toll physically, mentally and spiritually. You feel it. You’re not just tired, you’re exhausted. You’re not just stressed, you’re overwhelmed, sometimes so much that you feel overtaken and submerged in the deluge that is your caregiver’s life.

 

You find yourself:

 

  • no longer sleeping at night the way you used to.

  • dragging around all day, feeling spent and done-in.

  • irritable and anxious.

  • with an appetite that’s either gone completely or ever present

    .

It’s what happened to me and as a result, I was worn out, sick, and thirty-five pounds heavier!

 

It wasn’t until a year after my parents’ passed that I started using essential oils on a regular basis.

 

Oh, I knew about essential oils, knew about them for years. As a yoga instructor for many years, how could I not? I’d even buy some on occasion: lavender to put in my bath, peppermint or clove because I liked the scents.

 

It wasn’t until I decided to put essential oil on the helpyouthru.com website (my thinking being, “caregivers-relaxing essential oils — a match made in heaven”) that I started using them in earnest. After all, if I was going to have them on my website, I had to try them out first.

 

Now, I should say that at the time this was happening I wasn’t doing well. As many of you already know, my parents passed in late 2016 and even fourteen to fifteen months later, I was still feeling the effects, among them being:

 

  • depressed and nervous (never realized one can be nervous while in mourning),

  • achy, so much so that it felt like every muscle in my body was sore,

  • and an unhealthy appetite that caused me to put on an additional ten pounds.

 

So, I began using the essential oils. This was toward the end of February 2018. By mid-March of that same year (a few short weeks later), I was feeling better. Not all better, but better enough that I could see the difference.

 

  • I had more energy.

  • I felt less anxious.

  • I had fewer aches in my body and if those were great enough,

  • I started feeling like myself again! That was the best part

 

I’m telling you — how grateful was I with the change I experienced once I started using the oils! If only I’d known, I’d have used them sooner!

 

You might be asking yourself, why I’m sharing this?

 

The reason is simple — I want you to be aware of a very powerful tool you can use to help make your caregiving life more easeful. So, if:

 

  • you’re not sleeping the way you want or need to,

  • you’re dragging around all day, feeling exhausted,

  • you’re irritable and anxious,

  • you see yourself pushing your plate away, the mere thought of food making your stomach feel like there were a rock in it, only to come back a few hours later to devour the contents of your refrigerator,

  • you see your bathroom scale forever inching upward because of your unhealthy eating habits and/or your non-existent exercise routines, then essential oils could be something you’d want in your self-care/caregiving toolbox.

 

Now, let me be totally clear here, essential oils aren’t going to take caregiving tasks off your plate.

 

They aren’t going to drive Dad to his doctor’s appointment and they aren’t going to call Mom’s insurance company and fight for her benefits.

 

As the primary caregiver, those are still tasks that need to be done. The difference is that you’ll feel more balanced, calmer and more grounded doing them. Not only that, you’ll be able to get the rest you need and you’ll feel healthier so when those ups and downs all caregivers experience come along, you’re better able to handle them.

 

I so appreciate the effect these precious oils have had on my life. My only regret is that I didn’t know about them sooner – these all-natural, plant-based, amazing smelling oils, these little beauties have helped me so much.

 

And they so work fast which is really great news for all us family and former family caregivers!

 

 

Karen Bromberg is the founder of Help You Thru, LLC an on-line resource devoted to stressed out, overwhelmed family caregivers. Please visit www.helpyouthru.com. If you’d like to learn more about essential oils and how they can help you navigate your caregiving journey, please feel free to contact Karen at staff@helpyouthru.com. Since February, she has become a Wellness Advocate for DoTERRA and is more than happy to share how essential oils can help you in your caregiving journey.

 

 

Dealing with a Diagnosis of Chronic Illness

Dealing with a Diagnosis of Chronic Illness

By Robert M. Oliva, ND, LMSW

 

Having a loved one diagnosed with a serious chronic illness can have far-reaching effects on the patient and on every member of the caregiver’s family. A loved one’s illness can descend like a tidal wave filled with shock, anger, fear, resentment, worry, and frustration.

The ill family member may be emotionally shocked at the diagnosis and experience shame, fear, guilt, or intense denial. Grief is very commonly experienced by the newly diagnosed. This may coincide with a loss of physical mobility, depression, and a loss of personal confidence and integrity. Relationships may suffer due to both physical incapacity and emotional distress. The sufferer may no longer be able to participate in the normal network of friends and activities that were taken for granted prior to the diagnosis. If negative life events, stresses, and depression preceded the diagnosis, the chances of more severe depression occurring are very high.

The same may be said for caregivers and their families. When a family member is ill the entire family suffers. The caregiver and family can become physically and mentally exhausted, have bouts of sadness and helplessness, experience lowered immunity to colds and flu, become impatient with the ill family member and with each other. Family relationships may falter, children may exhibit problem behaviors, and frustrations with spouses may become damaging.

 

A Personal Note

Recently, I received a phone call from my mom’s neighbor. She let me know that mom had fallen and been taken to the hospital. The call started a two-month odyssey for me and my wife. Since my mom lives alone in another state, other family members, for various reasons, were unable to make the trip.

I was flooded with questions as to the severity of the fall, what would it mean for her ability to be independent, would she recover, and what would it mean for us. As it turns out, we had to spend two months as 24/7 caregivers in another state having left behind our family and friends.

When we arrived, my mom was much weaker and dependent than I had imagined. Shopping had to be done, doctors’ visits made, occupational and physical therapy instituted, meals prepared, emotional support given along with the uncertainty as to whether mom would once again be independent.

Even connecting with our absent family members and friends demanded establishing a network of communications that enabled all to keep informed and be supportive.

 

Coping with Chronic Illness

Coping with chronic illness is a reciprocal endeavor for every member of the family. The ill person, the caregiver, and the caregiver family form an interlocking system that must redefine itself to meet the challenge.

When navigating the consequences of a diagnosis, the following suggestions may prove helpful for all involved:

  • Confront the illness. Facing the diagnosis is the best long-term strategy for the person diagnosed as well as for the caregivers. Denial, as much as it is tempting, does not work.

 

  • Seek out social support. Social support can help everyone cope with the challenge of chronic illness. Creating a strong social network that is dependable makes a world of difference when the going gets tough. A haphazard approach and one isolated from necessary support structures, groups, and friends can lead to greater stress, depression, and burnout. Communicating with support networks can help the family more effectively address the circumstances it faces as the illness progresses.

 

  • Develop a plan of action. Communication with family, friends, physicians, social workers, and support personnel such as physical and occupational therapists enables the illness to be faced actively. Getting to know what to expect physically and emotionally from the disease process offers a greater sense of control.

 

  • Minimize unnecessary obligations. Stick with what you can handle.

 

  • Seek professional help. Managing a medical diagnosis can be hard on everyone. Psychological assistance can be accessed through the APA’s Psychologist Locator.

 

Conclusion

The diagnosis of a chronic illness reverberates throughout the family. By accepting chronic disease for what it is, there may be less need to hide our fears and apprehensions. Through shared effort, greater familial resilience and patience may strengthen tattered bonds. Accepting the pain and uncertainty of illness may kindle a greater capacity to move forward. Hopefully, this leads to less stress and conflict, while providing patient and family the emotional sustenance needed during trying times.

Chronic illness is never easy. Sharing the struggle together may help fashion the hope that carries us through.

 

 

Dr. Robert M. Oliva is a New York State licensed Master Social Worker, a traditional Naturopath, a certified Holistic Health Practitioner and a health and fitness writer. He is a member of the American Naturopathic Medical Association, the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and the National Association of Social Workers. Dr. Oliva is a former Adjunct Assistant Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College (CUNY). He can be contacted at: healingactions@gmail.com.

 

 

Three Strategies for Handling Those Times When It Feels Like Emotional Landmines Are Everywhere

Three Strategies for Handling Those Times When It Feels Like Emotional Landmines Are Everywhere

By Karen Bromberg

 

Introduction

 

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt emotionally bowled-over with the approach of Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter. Raise your hand as the specter of a birthday or anniversary looms.

 

Now, please raise your hand if you’ve ever found yourself remembering with fondness a point in time when your loved one was younger (still sporting their own natural hair color), healthier (still able to walk and tend their self), and more cognitively intact. Raise your hand if, once you come back to the present day, you find yourself feeling sad or depressed, knowing that what once was is now over. 

 

You are not alone.

 

If you’re like everyone else (everyone who has ever taken up the mantle of caregiving, that is), I’m sure there are times throughout the year when you find yourself more emotional.

 

You might be remembering those delicious pumpkin pies your mother used to make at Thanksgiving or the stuffed cabbage your grandmother used to spend hours on; making sure they were just right, making sure they were ready for the Passover seder. The Ham your favorite aunt used to lovingly prepare for Easter dinner. The look on your father’s face that time you surprised him for his birthday and the whole family was there.

 

This past weekend, we celebrated Passover and Easter. A joyous time of year, to be sure. A time of year for renewal. A time to look forward.

 

But for many of us overwhelmed family caregivers and former caregivers, it’s also a time of looking back and often looking back with sadness. 

 

Now don’t get me wrong, looking back can be quite pleasant, comforting as a matter of fact; waltzing down memory lane, re-living old events. It can feel safe; a kind of refuge, if you will, when we were not responsible for the day-in and day-out caregiving tasks that have come to fill our days.  

 

For those whom caregiving has ended a result of the death of a loved one, these times when we find ourselves looking back might be especially difficult. We may find ourselves remembering those times when our loved one was still here, them sitting around the seder table or them having Easter dinner. We recall the sound of our loved one’s voice. The feel of their skin as we gently stroke their cheek. 

 

In my own case, I often find these times of year EXTRAORDINARILY difficult, filled with emotional landmines that, until I walk over one and am bowled over by it, I am not even aware of. I mean, one moment I could be perfectly fine then the next moment, a stray thought could go through my head and before I know, there come there tears.

 

And yes, I know, it’s all part of the mourning process.  But I find, especially during these times of years, it feels as though the scab that is just now starting to form becomes weaker.

 

So what do I do when I’m faced with one of those emotional landmines? Well . . . several things. I started doing them kind of unconsciously. Really, they were just things that seemed to work for me in helping me to tread those choppy emotional waters until I was able to swim myself to something calmer.

 

The strategies are easy – so easy that, in fact, they might not feel like strategies at all, but they are. They are easy but they are not simple. That said, they are SO worth it!

 

Strategies

 

Strategy #1: Forgiving ourselves and others

I can’t stress this enough! To my mind, the only thing that holding onto old hurt, old anger and old resentment does is keep us stuck in the past, and I don’t mean the comforting part of the past. I mean the part of the past where emotional turmoil lives. Focusing on that only keeps us mired in emotional muck.

 

Strategy #2: Staying in the present

An argument can be made for putting this as Strategy #1 because the “easiest” and some would say, the only way for us to forgive ourselves and others, is when we are fully grounded in the present moment, which, from personal experience, I find to be very true.

When I am present in the moment old hurts, old angers, and old resentments just don’t seem to have the same kind of hold on me. I am better able to say to myself (and mean it), “it was what it was” and let it go.

The trick, however, is to stay present because, as we all know, the mind wants to drag us back to the past or catapult us forward into the future – nothing we can do about that. It’s just the nature of the mind. For help to keep us grounded, a regular meditation practice comes in handy.

And it doesn’t even have to be sitting on a cushion. It can just be becoming aware of our surroundings, of focusing in on the feel of air as it travels in and out of the nostrils. If we can master either of these two simple techniques, it would go a long way in helping us to stay grounded in the present moment.

 

Strategy #3: Allowing joy into our lives

I know, I know, if you are an overwhelmed family caregiver or if your caregiving responsibilities have ended due to the death of your loved one, joy is probably not high on your emotional menu right now. I get it. Boy, do I get it!

If that is where you are, then please know that that is fine. Take all the time you need, but please don’t forget that when you are ready, joy is still an option.

You see, joy is one of those emotions that is our birthright to have and enjoy but it’s also one of those emotions that we tend to put up on a shelf, (“Oh, I’ll be joyful when such and such is or isn’t happening in my life.”) but that said, joy can be so beneficial in helping us to heal. Why, even the sound of it – JOY – can bring a smile to our face.

Now, to be honest, I don’t have tips to help us bring more joy into our lives. I’ll be perfectly blunt about it, for me bringing more joy into my life is still a work in progress but know that when I have more to share I’ll be sure to tell you.

 

Conclusion

 

Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries — they all can make the already slippery slope of family caregiving (both current and former) even more slippery. We find ourselves remembering times, places and events, which might be very soothing but it can also bring up old pains and hurt not to mention potentially make us sad as we remember what used to be.

 

The result is that instead of feeling comforted we become exhausted. It is my hope, therefore, that the above strategies can serve to help with navigating these emotional landmines and that instead of these “special” times of year causing stress, and sadness, they can pave the way to joy. 

 

 

Karen Bromberg is the founder of Help You Thru, LLC, an online resource for family caregivers offering resources, relaxation and relaxation techniques to overwhelmed caregivers. If you have any questions about these strategies or would like to contact her for help and support in your caregiving journey, please contact her at staff@helpyouthru.com. For resources, tips, support, and information regarding family caregiving, please join our mailing list.

 

Six Ways To Make This The Best Spring Ever

Six Ways To Make This The Best Spring Ever

Introduction

 

Congratulations overwhelmed caregivers! You made it through yet another winter!

 

Days of navigating your loved ones through sleet and snow in order to get them to their doctors’ appointments are slowly fading into memory. Soon flowers will be in bloom; overcoats, boots, and scarves will be tucked into the back of the closet while windbreakers and sweaters are brought up front.

 

For many of us here in the United States, we’ve already unofficially welcomed Spring. That was done on March 11th, when we turned our clocks forward and on March 20th, we officially welcome it.

 

It’s cliché to say that Spring is synonymous with renewal and rebirth but the truth of the matter is, it is. I mean, all we have to do is look out our window to see it. Depending on where you are, the crocuses may be out, blades of grass beginning to peak through the ground.

 

Why even the holidays we celebrate in Springtime are all about renewal. I mean, just look at the symbolism.

 

If one were to look up the meaning of the word “renewal” one will find many definitions. One that comes from Merriam-Webster I just love. It says that renewal is “to become new or as new.”

 

Isn’t that beautiful? After a long, dark, cold winter we can become new again.

 

But the question is, how as overwhelmed caregivers, busy all day long with our kids, our spouses, our house, and our care recipients, are we able to do that?

 

 Ways We Can Make This The Best Spring Ever

 

1. Conduct a thorough Spring Cleaning and no, when say that I don’t mean tearing the house apart and cleaning it to an inch of its life. What I mean is:

 

:: Go through diets, pantries, and refrigerators. Assess what foods are no longer serving us in terms of our health and nutrition and replace them with better food that’ll better support our goals.

 

:: Review exercise regimes. For those already exercising (woot-woot!), keep it up. For those who don’t, I want to be the voice of encouragement. One evening, instead of collapsing in front of the TV, try going for a little walk (providing you can leave your care recipient on his/her own). If your care recipient can’t be left alone, try walking around the house, going up and down the stairs a few times, putting on a CD or something on one of those streaming channels and dance around the living room. Provided there are no medical contra-indications to exercise, exercise provides energy and a rise in endorphins, which lowers stress.

 

2. De-clutter your life. Assess which friends and which habits support the goals of health and relaxation. Keep what works and discard the rest. So, if you have a friend, for example, who loves to dictate how they would take care of your loved one if they were in your place (so obnoxious, isn’t it?) my experience is that the best and healthiest thing to do is simply walk away.

 

3. Create a meaningful daily ritual. Read the Bible. Pray. Sit in meditation or take a few deep breaths with the eyes closed.

 

4. Try something new; something never tried before. A new hobby. Painting. Learning how to knit or crochet. Maybe start a vegetable garden in the backyard.

 

5. About life in the future. A new job. Or a new career. Maybe a dream vacation. To the tropics? A tour to Alaska? A cruise along the Mediterranean? Go ahead, plan it out. For a week? How about two?

 

6. Sit down and assess what attitudes and strategies are still working and what aren’t. Those that are still working, keep. Those that aren’t, how about discovering (or re-discovering) ways that things can flow more easily?

 

Conclusion

 

While each season has it’s own gifts, Spring’s gifts is that of rebirth and renewal. If we can embrace those gifts and learn the lessons they have to offer, then we can reduce our stress and the overwhelm it brings, thereby making this Spring the best ever.

 

 

 

Karen Bromberg is the founder of Help You Thru, LLC, an online resource for family caregivers offering resources, relaxation and relaxation techniques to overwhelmed caregivers. Feel free to contact her at staff@helpyouthru.com. Want more information about how you can make your caregiving journey easier? Join our mailing list.

Are You Worried About Inflation?

Are You Worried About Inflation?

By Gregg S. Fisher, Founder, Head of Research& Portfolio Strategy, Gerstein Fisher

 

Gerstein Fisher has been managing portfolios for institutional and private investors since 1993. In this article, Mr. Fisher looks at the evidence that inflation is on the rise and suggests how investors might best seek protection.

 

SUMMARY                       

  • Inflation updrafts and rising prices hits virtually everyone, but those on fixed incomes (like many care recipients) especially hard  

 

  • Inflation has been subdued globally since 2009, but some key measures of inflation have shown life recently.

 

  • Looking back in history, we can observe that commodities, gold, real estate, and emerging-market stocks proved to win when inflation rates were high and during periods of unexpected jumps in inflation.

 

  • While predicting inflation movements is hard, a well-diversified portfolio with an allocation to hard assets seems prudent.

 

“INFLATION IS AS VIOLENT AS a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber, and as deadly as a hit man,” declared Ronald Reagan in 1978, when the U.S. inflation rate was 9% and rising. If you remember the late 1970s and early 1980s, you recall watching the prices of basic goods climb almost daily—and shuddering at 30-year-fixed mortgage rates that spiked to 18½%.

 

We’re not expecting to see anything like that in the foreseeable future—but even moderate inflation can upset the lifestyles of those who need regular care, many of whom subsist on fixed incomes. For that matter, rising prices can crimp the spending patterns of nearly everyone, including caregivers as well.      

 

That said, a little inflation—in the 2% range or so—is usually a good thing, since it helps grease the economic wheels and keep wages rising. Indeed, for much of the time since the Global Financial Crisis bottomed out in 2009, the Federal Reserve and many other central banks around the world struggled to reach that number; most still haven’t.

 

Prices Tick Up

In the U.S., though, some prices and key measures of inflation expectations have sprung to life in recent months. For example, from June 2017 through late-January 2018, oil prices surged 54%, and the key broad-based commodities index gained 31%.

 

The economy is growing at a decent clip, the tax cuts should further stimulate growth, unemployment is at a low 4.1%, wages appear finally to be rising, and a weaker dollar should translate into higher prices for imports.

 

So if inflation is rising, what might investors do? To help answer that question, we reviewed more than 30 years of data about how different investment asset classes performed—under various inflationary environments.

 

We examined periods when inflation jumped unexpectedly and periods of low-, medium-, and high-inflation regimes.

 

Commodities Shined When Inflation Leaped

During periods of unexpectedly high inflation rates (as measured by the Consumer Price Index, or CPI), the winner was commodities—not surprising, since their prices typically respond quickly to inflation.

 

On average when inflation rose unexpectedly, commodities jumped nearly 28% over the following year. Other hard assets—gold and real-estate investment trusts, or REITs—also proved to be worthy hedges against inflation shocks.

But stocks from the world’s developing markets outperformed both gold and REITs, coming in with a one-year average return approaching 18%: more than twice as much as stocks from the U.S. and other developed markets.

 

The strong results in the emerging world reflect the heavy exposure that many of those countries have to natural-resource industries.

 

More on Comparative Performance

For our second study, we defined low inflation as a year-over-year CPI rate of less than 2.1%, moderate inflation as CPI growth of 2.1% to 3.2%, and high inflation as rates above 3.2%.

 

Many assets did best when inflation was at a moderate level—not surprising. But in high-inflation periods commodities once again took the crown, with an average 12-month return of 23.6%–though they suffered severe losses in low-inflation environments.

 

Second place was, once more, occupied by emerging-market stocks, which posted an average return of close to 19%.—but they also trailed U.S. and developed-international stocks when inflation was low. U.S. REITs and Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (bonds indexed to inflation, known as TIPS) both posted double-digit returns when inflation was high—though REITs did much better in moderate-inflationary periods.

 

The Take-Aways

So what are investors to do? First, we urge them not to try to predict future inflation rates. It’s notoriously difficult to make accurate forecasts.

 

But since inflation—particularly when it comes in an unexpected burst—can play havoc with the performance of some asset classes, we think there’s a strong case for including some hard assets, such as commodities, gold, and real estate, in a diversified portfolio, along with a helping of emerging-market stocks.

 

For most investors, the allocations should be small. But we’d advise not ignoring these investment choices: Their typically protective features when inflation is high are, in our judgment, worth the trade-offs that come with them.

 

Whether or not caregivers or the people they tend to are investors, it’s wise for all concerned to keep an eye on inflation indicators, and prepare new spending and saving strategies if price increases become uncomfortable. No one should get caught unprepared in an inflation updraft.          

 

 

Disclosure

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Gerstein Fisher), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Gerstein Fisher. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. Gerstein Fisher is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the Gerstein Fisher current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request.

Gerstein Fisher, is a division of People’s Securities, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, member of FINRA and SIPC, and a registered investment adviser. People’s Securities, Inc. is a subsidiary of People’s United Bank, N.A.

The investment products and services offered by People’s Securities, Inc. are: Not insured by the FDIC or any other government agency | Not deposits or other obligations of, or guaranteed by, People’s United Bank, N.A. | Subject to investment risks, including possible loss of principal.

 

 

More Rights Overwhelmed Family Caregivers Have (But May Not Realize)

More Rights Overwhelmed Family Caregivers Have (But May Not Realize)

By Karen Bromberg

 

Introduction

 

Back in January, I wrote a blog post titled “Five Rights Overwhelmed Caregivers Have (But May Not Realize).” In it, I spoke to those feelings we, overwhelmed caregivers, may have but often don’t speak about. I also gave some ideas and support for how we can lower our stress thereby, hopefully, avoiding caregiver burnout.

 

As I’ve said before (and I’ll say it again), we family caregivers have such full plates. We do so much for so many that often there’s no time to do anything for ourselves. As a result, we eat poorly and exercise not at all (who has the time or energy?).

 

We put on weight. Anxiety rises. Stress mounts and along with that comes sleepless nights, the ultimate result being that we put our own health at risk.

 

As we know, stress can be so insidious. If we’ve been stressed for a long period of time (the way most of us family caregivers are), we stop noticing it. We forget what it feels like not to be stressed and we even begin to feel that the tightness in our shoulders is normal.

 

It’s not.

 

Now, before I go any further, I want to say upfront that in no way am I advocating we put our needs ahead of our care recipients’.

 

Our care recipients need us and, of course, we want to be there for them. We want to make sure that they are happy, safe and well cared for. After all, we are caregivers and these are the people we love.

 

That said, we also have to be sure that we are taking care of ourselves as well. So, with that in mind, I want to continue our discussion.

 

So . . .

 

As caregivers, we have the right:

 

  1. to feel exhausted.

 

And, more often than not, that’s exactly how we do feel. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. Spiritually. Generally speaking, we caregivers are a population of very pooped individuals.

 

Oh, we may get six to eight hours of sleep at night, though honestly most of us don’t. But, even if we do, we might still find ourselves continually spent.

 

That happened to me. I’d sleep but I’d still feel tired when I woke up in the morning. I couldn’t understand it, but instead of being compassionate with myself I ended up judging myself (truly the last thing I needed to be doing).

 

In hindsight, what would’ve served me better would’ve been to view my fatigue as a kind of badge of honor. You know, as a positive instead of a negative.

 

But, with that said,

 
 

WE ALSO HAVE THE RIGHT TO

 

not be exhausted. Look, our responsibilities are our responsibilities. Those we cannot change. What we can change is how we approach them.

 

So, how about, instead of being upset that Mom’s doctor called to rearrange her appointment, we look upon it as having a couple of free hours we didn’t anticipate? What if instead of allowing ourselves to feel grumpy all day, we turn our frowns upside down and look at the world through pink, red or yellow colored glasses instead of black or dark brown?

 

A while ago, I realized that there are very many things I don’t have control over but the one thing I do is how I view the world. View it as an awful place and it becomes that way with the final result being that I end up exhausted.

 

View it as a less than awful place, then I can start making better and healthier choices for myself.

 

 

  1. to feel stressed.

 

Isn’t that the dictionary definition of family caregiver?

 

Having most (if not all) of the decisions on our shoulders, having to navigate family members with potentially very different opinions on what’s best, tending to a care recipient who might not want to do what you’d like, not to mention all the other responsibilities we have as adults, really is there any wonder why we are stressed?

 

But that said,

 

 

WE ALSO HAVE THE RIGHT TO

 

not be stressed, feel settled and steady no matter the circumstance. And no, it’s not going to come from a sprinkling of pixie dust or from drowning in your favorite brand of alcohol.

 

It’s going to come from quieting the mind and calming the body. Two techniques I’ve found to be extremely helpful with this is the yogic practices of deep relaxation and deep breathing. As a yoga instructor for over fifteen years, and practicing them myself for even longer, I’ve seen and felt the amazing effects these two practices can have on dialing back the stress. I highly recommend them. They take just a few minutes and they can make such a difference.

 

For instructions, please go to www.helpyouthru.com/caregiver’scorner. Scroll down to the middle of the page. There you will find short video clips.

 

 

  1. to not listen to hurtful/unhelpful people.

 

Don’t you just love the people who, even though they haven’t “walked a mile in your shoes,” aren’t afraid to tell you how to act, think, feel and behave? That what you are doing for your care recipient is wrong? That somehow they know better?

 

Now tell me, do you believe them? Even a little bit. In the back of your mind? Do you find yourself wondering, “Hmmm . . . perhaps he (or she) is right?” and then feel bad about yourself, thinking that you are not doing all you can for your care recipient?

 

I did. And it made my life SO much harder.

 

Look, people are going to give their opinions. We can’t stop that, much as we might like to but that said,

 

 

WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO

 

walk away and not listen. We also have the right to feel comfortable in our own skin. We can blast the person for their insensitivity but, frankly, I wouldn’t. Instead, I’d take a breath, count to ten and bless the person for trying to mean well, then get busy and do something positive.

 

That way we can keep our peace and really there’s nothing better than that!

 

 

 

Karen Bromberg is the founder of Help You Thru, LLC, an online resource for family caregivers offering resources, relaxation and relaxation techniques to overwhelmed caregivers. Feel free to contact her at staff@helpyouthru.com. Want more information about how you can make your caregiving journey easier? Join our mailing list.