September 20, 2020

family caregiverLiving under quarantine for the past few months has left many feeling isolated and overwhelmed. Everything changed overnight. We had to figure out how to work from home, workout at home, cook every day, and go beyond cleaning to disinfecting everything. Many are dealing with the added responsibilities of caring for a family member who is ill, as well as homeschooling and activity director.

All this in addition to budget crunching, job searches, toilet paper scavenger hunts and don’t forget the mask!
So much to do.
So much new.

Family caregivers often feel isolated and overwhelmed, too, as their world can be turned upside down in an instant. Like them, you may be thinking, “I don’t have time to do anything else.” In our struggle to adapt we may not want to trouble others with our burdens. After all, friends, family, and co-workers are dealing with their own situation so we don’t reach out for help, just as family caregivers don’t want to bother the nurse or doctor with questions.

But hey, wait a minute. Did we ask all those other people what they thought? Or did we just make assumptions?

If we build our own bubble, avoiding asking for help then we can stew in it, building more and more self-created stressors and “what if’ scenarios. We can exhaust ourselves with ruminations and develop the idea that we are the only ones who can handle the task.

That is not true.
Take a look around you. Look for those people who have lifted you up in the past and let them know you are struggling. Your friends and family may want to help, but is it possible you’ve shut them out? Look long and hard at this and ask yourself if you are pushing away support. Can you open the door just a tiny bit to let some help come in?

Be a little vulnerable and let people who care about you know that you are struggling. Reach out with a simple phone call or email and offer them some simple ways they can support you. There are also a host of trained professionals, support groups and community resources at your fingertips. Search and read through the websites to find the ones that fit your needs.

When we reach out to people to let them know we need a hand, we empower them by giving them an opportunity to lend support and have a positive influence on us and the situation.  When we accept their help and listen to their advice (even if we don’t act on all of it), we lift them up and, at the same time, our own burden is lighter.

On the flip-side, look around you and see what you can do for others. The more we can do for others the more impact it has on all of us.

When you find yourself feeling isolated or overwhelmed, know you’re not alone and take comfort in the words of Mr. Rogers, ““When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping. To this day, especially in times of “disaster”, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.”

 I’m here to help you, too. I wrote When Life Hits The Fan: A mindful guide to caring for yourself while caring for others for you and created the Nearly Mindful Facebook Group  to offer helpful resources and a place to learn how to find calm in the chaos.

I also have a number of resources, classes, and helpful tips in my newsletter. Whether you are a caregiver or just want to learn to be more mindful, resilient, and happy in your life, subscribe to the newsletter below.

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