Avoid Becoming Overwhelmed

Taking My Own Advice About Self-Care

Overwhelmed caregiver looking in the refrigeratorI frequently write about the importance of self-care and how it is the only way caregivers can avoid becoming physically and emotionally overwhelmed.

Yesterday morning as I was making soup to take to two different sets of friends who are each struggling with some serious health issues, I went to the refrigerator and drew an absolute blank after opening the door.

Speaking to myself (or so I thought) I said, “Where did I come from?”

My husband Alex, who was pouring a cup of coffee, said, “Are you asking me that question?”

I laughed and said, “No! I know where I came from. I just don’t know why I’m here.”

He said, “Huh?”

Feeling a little exasperated, I explained that I was not trying to start an existential conversation, I was just trying to remember what ingredient I needed to take out of the refrigerator to put into the soup.

That little exchange was amusing to me, but it also alerted me to the fact that I haven’t been taking care of myself. I’ve been spending the bulk of every day in front of my computer writing blogs, updating and improving my websites and developing new content for some upcoming presentations.

Here’s what I haven’t been doing – I haven’t been exercising. I haven’t been spending quality time with my husband, children, grandchildren or friends. I haven’t even been getting out of the house.

I’ve put my work ahead of my own mental and physical well-being, and yesterday morning I realized I was feeling cranky, pudgy and a little befuddled.

The problem is I love what I do. I love writing. I love doing keynote speeches and workshops. I DON’T love doing website maintenance or search engine optimization, and I hate doing bookkeeping, which may explain why I’m feeling a little panicked about getting my tax information organized and recorded so I can deliver it all to our CPA.

This is a long way of saying that I need to follow some of my own advice and start caring for myself. My plan is to take a break this weekend and then hire some help to do the things I don’t like to do.

For the next few weeks I’m going to cut back on the frequency of my Word of the Day posts. It’s important to me to stay in touch with you on a regular basis, but creating new quality content seven days a week takes an inordinate amount of time and emotional energy. I’m going to try writing three blogs a week until I catch up with the rest of my life.

In the meantime, if you feel like you need a bit of inspiration or encouragement to get through a tough day or a sleepless night, I’d like to invite you to visit my website caregiverhelp.com. The videos and PDF worksheets will help you understand and cope with caregiver anger, guilt, depression and grief. The Dementia Issues module provides strategies for managing dementia-related challenging behaviors, and the Self-Care module will help you develop a plan to avoid caregiver burnout.

Rest assured – I do know where I came from, and I have a pretty good idea of why I’m here. I just need a little time to rest and regroup, because I know for certain that I will have more to give to others if I follow my own advice and take care of myself first.