With all the stress and responsibility of caregiving, it’s easy to forget to give ourselves credit for the wonderful things we do for others. Nurse Beckie from FirstLight Home Care shares 7 positive New Year’s resolutions for caregivers that help us acknowledge our contributions and find ways to reduce stress and increase well-being.
New Year’s resolutions for caregivers can be opportunities for growth, but can sometimes feel like punishments.
Instead of starting the year by focusing on the negatives, here are 7 positive resolutions that help you realize just how meaningful you are to the people you’re helping.
1. Learn to love yourself again
When we embark on the journey of family caregiving, it’s easy to lose ourselves.
Between endless to-do lists and increasing needs, caring for an older adult may swell to consume our time and eventually, our personality, too.
And when even tiny, unimportant mistakes feel like we’re failing someone we love, we may find ourselves in dark places with no clear path out.
But part of being a good family caregiver is taking care of yourself, too.
Finding ways to manage the doubt and insecurity that can sink in over time is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves.
2. Don’t stress about things you can’t control
One way to manage that doubt is to understand that there are many things that are simply out of our control.
There are times when we just can’t be there or when there’s nothing we can do to make a situation better.
But these things are not your fault.
Punishing yourself for unforeseen events or things outside your control only makes life harder and the future seem more bleak.
In the new year, take a step back and breathe – and remember that you can’t control or solve every situation.
3. Become mindful of your situation
Ultimately, as family caregivers, we do what we do out of love for someone in our lives.
Our sense of responsibility and duty may cloud that, but that love is the bond that keeps family caregivers going.
But it’s easy to lose sight of this when you’re trying to have a conversation with your older adult’s doctor or helping them with basic needs.
Stop for a minute and consider the valuable time you’ve shared with the important people in your lives as well as the relationships you’ve built through these challenging times.
4. Look for silver linings
There are upsides to even the most difficult situations, but sometimes they’re difficult to see.
The forest is there, though, you just have to look for it.
Every time your kids get to spend an afternoon with their grandparents, or you have a moment to flip through old photo albums with your parents, these are points of genuine meaning.
Reflect on these and savor them as they occur.
5. Make time to decompress
Every caregiver needs to be able to step away once in a while.
You deserve to find respite from your responsibilities, whether it’s finally taking that vacation you’ve been planning or going for a short walk in the evenings.
Self-care is care too. And finding ways to process or escape your feelings is a valid and important part of the caregiving process.
Start here: once a week, plan to take an hour for yourself.
What you do with that time is yours to decide, just as long as you give yourself some distance from your caregiving responsibilities.
Taking time for yourself isn’t selfish, it’s critical for your well-being and those around you.
6. Embrace the time you have
Caregiving may seem endless, but it won’t last forever.
The moments we have with an older adult are special, even if stress and responsibility often prevent us from enjoying them.
Working toward appreciating some of these moments a little more can help you feel more secure and confident about your caregiving – and maybe a little happier, too.
7. Find help when you need it
Finally, caregiving is a huge job. It’s often more than one person can handle alone.
When you find yourself stretched thin or unable to meet all the obligations you’ve set, don’t hesitate to reach out to family and friends for assistance.
Remember to be specific and direct, so your calls for help don’t fall through the cracks.
Remind yourself that caregiving is about caring for someone and helping them live the best life they can, despite the circumstances.
Seeking help to provide the needed level of care isn’t a failure. It’s part of doing the best job you can.
Recommended for you:
- 4 New Year’s Goals to Improve Caregiver Well-Being
- 6 Ways to Stop Judging Yourself as a Caregiver
- 6 Ways to Make It Easier for Caregivers to Take a Break
Guest contributor: Rebecca Rushing, BSN, RN, is director of Client Care Services for FirstLight Home Care. Nurse Beckie is a certified dementia practitioner, an Ageless Grace brain health educator, and a Positive Approach® to Care Independent Trainer. Beckie has more than 30 years of nursing experience and a passion for the well-being of older adults.
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