A Time 4 Me is doable self-care for stressed caregivers. Through short, simple steps you develop a plan for mellowing out for a few minutes without guilt while still providing care.
Join me in taking time to feeling less stress and more energy. Take time for you!
This is My Story
For over 25 years, I worked full-time in senior living communities. I see it as a privilege to be able to support people of all abilities and backgrounds deal with their personal losses – especially when those losses involve health. One thing I learned is that my work involved more than just helping residents with their health, I also supported them in finding joy, in expressing themselves, in continuing to live life.
I also learned that it is never just the “resident”. The work is always about the families and friends that join the resident on the journey. The loved ones of those living with dementia were always very special to me. In many ways, they were losing touch with the person they loved long before the person passed.
I was always inspired by those families that seemed to find a way to make their loved one feel cared for while still having a life for themselves outside the facility. Others family members commented how guilty they felt leaving mom (or dad) in our care.
My work also showed how challenging it is for professional caregivers. The residents and their families become our friends. At times it made it challenging to relax during a 30-minute lunch break. Let alone finding time for a bathroom break between meetings, Visiting with residents and families, and leading activities.
Based upon the information I knew from books, personal experiences, and relaxed caregivers, I thought I knew what it took for a caregiver to take 15 minutes or a day for de-stress. Boy, was I WRONG!
It feels so different when it is someone you love that is suffering and you are watching them face that on a daily basis. Seeing it as a professional, it was easier to disconnect, easier to provide the supports needed. Once I was off the clock, I could break away mentally and emotionally to take care of myself.
In the last year, my spouse was diagnosed with a sarcoma. He has been through chemotherapy, radiation treatments and surgery. And the journey continues.
My experiences at work had done little to prepare me for days of not being allowed to leave his side. Nor had they informed me of the total lack of control a caregiver has on schedules. If I scheduled a call or a meeting at an open time, it inevitably had to be dumped for an unexpected lab, doctor visit, or medical emergency. I also experienced the realities of chemo brain which can cloud short term memory in ways similar to early stages of dementia. Not only did he continually need me…I continually need to check on him. I continually needed to know that he was ok. That contact vigilance wore on me body, mind and spirit.
I knew that if I was going to survive this AND help my husband be his best that I had to come up with a better strategy. I needed a strategy that would allow me to refuel while still being there for him when he needed me to most.
About that time, one of my friends introduced me to doTERRA essential oils. Though I was skeptical they would make a difference, I figured I had nothing to loose. I started diffusing them in the apartment we rented and in his room when he was hospitalized. Almost immediately I noticed the oils lifted my mood. My husband and the nursing staff would comment on the great smell of the room. I knew it was worth learning more.
Drawing upon my personal and professional experiences, my observations and training, I set out to develop a plan for mellowing out and care for myself a few minutes each day while still providing care to my husband.
It is self-care that involves connecting with and releasing a range of emotions. It is getting up and moving. It is being still and quiet. While many of the approaches have varied, music and doTerra essential oils have been my companion on this cancer caregiver journey.
Now I’m sharing and educating other caregivers on what I’ve learned.