As National Family Caregiver Month comes to an end, I wanted to talk about something we can all relate to.
If you’re like most family caregivers you are likely stressed, overworked, over-scheduled, exhausted and lonely. You might feel like you’re all alone, doing a job that’s just too big, with no one cheering you on. You’re probably being second-guessed but not much support from your family. You might be feeling like it’s just too hard.
Have you ever done something really difficult – for fun? Have you trained for a marathon, a century bike ride, a hike up a mountain? If you’ve ever done this, you probably remember feeling exhausted many times during training and the event. BUT – here’s the big difference – you were doing it by choice. You were in control.
Imagine the difference between running a marathon by choice and running 26 miles because someone is forcing you to do it.
The big difference is in how you experience the stress. Running a marathon – or doing anything else that’s extremely challenging – is stressful. But when you do it by choice – when you’re in control – it makes all the difference in the world. Your body interprets the stress as a good thing. You feel exhausted – but like you’ve achieved something BIG.
If you’re doing something this challenging because you feel forced to do it the negative stress can make you sick. You’re at risk for all kinds of illness, including stroke and early death, just from the negative stress.
The work of a caregiver is hard. It’s exhausting much of the time. You don’t earn a medal for doing it – you should, by the way – but you’re also doing something that’s an even greater achievement than completing a marathon. You’re giving of yourself: your time, your energy, your work. And you’re doing it selflessly.
One method that has proven effective is becoming part of a supportive community, and learning everything you can about how to provide care more easily and efficiently.
Make a choice to be involved in caregiving at a level that works for you.
Join a support group. Even an exercise class or church group of individuals like you can provide much needed social support.
Access caregiver training through classes or trusted online resources.
You may find, like so many other caregivers before you, that it’s the hardest work – and the most rewarding work – you’ll ever be called to do.
I highly encourage you to join us today as I host a panel discussion with actual family caregivers and discuss their experiences. Register Here
It’ll be a great end to an ever ongoing topic of discussion: the importance of the family caregiver.