Caregivers’ calendars tend to be filled with appointments, meetings, and other household/work related activities. We also tend to add loved one or client social and recreational activities to our calendars as we remain focused on keeping them active and engaged.
Meanwhile, caregivers can go for multiple weeks without participating in a preferred activity themselves. No wonder why it is so difficult and sometimes depressing when starting a new week.
Even when caregivers do manage to schedule and participate in an activity of choice for themselves they can often be filled with guilt. I can remember a number of times during my caregiving journey with my parents when I felt guilty during times I spent out of the house for leisure, learning, or recreation. When I felt guilty or thought about what was happening with my parents at home, I did not live in the moment and missed out on fully enjoying some activities.
Over time, I learned (through work with my own life coach) that taking time for myself was not selfish so there was no need to feel guilty. In fact, by fully participating in at least one enjoyable activity each week I refueled my caregiving energy and provided even better and more balanced support throughout the rest of the week. It is vital to always have things to look forward to in your calendar–this will help you stay more positive even when you face great challenges.
Practice Tip: Schedule one fun or preferred activity in your calendar to be completed within the next week. This does not need to be a major activity – it could be something as simple as spending time alone reading in a park, walking on a nearby beach or pond, going to a movie, etc. This will give you something to look forward to. When you participate in your activity, be fully present and enjoy it to the fullest. After you return from your activity, your loved one will benefit as you have much more positive energy for your caregiving support activities.
If you can, it would be nice to plan for and schedule at least one major activity during the summer travel season. Book a weekend or week away. If you do not want to leave your loved one or have concern with finnancial resources, just take a few day trips to refresh yourself.
If sharing will help you carry through with this practice tip, schedule your next preferred activity and share it with me in the comments below. I would love to hear what you are doing for fun and leisure – might give me some new ideas to try or share with fellow caregivers.
PS: If you want to explore this topic even further, join me live during my interview tomorrow at 2pm ET on The Cancer Support Radio Network’s Caregiving SOS Show with host Joni Aldrich. We will be discussing how caregivers can create a nice summer for themselves even if they are devoting most of their time to caring for a loved one. Join us tomorrow (Wednesday May 28th) at 2pm ET at w4cs.com/caregiving-sos/
PPS: If you are or know of someone who is a divorced Mom or Dad parenting a child with special needs, my featured article on Family Affaires can provide some tips for your child’s success. Check it out by clicking here.