We all have busy schedules these days, trying to find time to spend with family, friends, exercise and yes, time to relax. Now, put into the day, taking care of a loved one with dementia; for that matter, taking care of someone, period. Now, try adding in time to spend with the family, friends, exercise and yes, to relax. Sounds pretty funny, huh? I know you are thinking, “You want me to find time for these things? Relax…Really?” My answer to this is…YES! For your sound mind and for your body’s health, you need to find time to do these things. If you don’t take care of yourself, how do you expect to take care of someone else, especially someone who has constant needs? You can’t and won’t be able to!
You may be thinking how does she know how hard it is? Well, I do! I’ve been there. My sister’s and I took care of our mom who has dementia. I worked full-time, just lost my dad and had 2 young girls. You have to find ways to do something, anything that helps you cope with what you are doing and what you are seeing and having to deal with. People can say, ‘Oh, just do this or that. How bad can it really be?” Well, the cold, hard truth is, if you haven’t been in someone’s shoes…”If you have never been a caregiver, it is very difficult to understand what they are going through.
What do you do to cope with all of this? Do you walk, exercise, yoga, cook, read, shop, take a bubble bath, journal, paint, talk to friends…? It doesn’t really matter what you do (as long as it is healthy) as long as it works for you. You need to do something that makes you relax and get away from reality. For example, mine were/are to walk, read, crochet and spend time with those closest to me. When I walk or crochet, I clear my mind and can even kind of meditate. Both of these activities are rhythmic, making it a meditative type of activity, calming me and clearing my thoughts. Crocheting is creative, opening and clearing my thoughts. Reading lets you escape your reality and be someone else, somewhere else.
That is an example of my coping strategies, but the list is unending. This is to give you some ideas, but to also explain to you the importance of having coping strategies for relaxing and dealing with all of life’s issues. If you do not learn to cope with the stress, you are opening yourself up to endless illnesses. You need to allow your body to relax and renew itself from the stress and heal. Stress can cause increased blood pressure, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, cancer, etc. You get the picture. So, if you do not have any coping strategies, try some of these. If you get stuck, reply to this blog, and I will try to give you ideas.
Go now and relax and de-stress your mind and body to make a healthier you. The better you feel, the better you can help your loved-one.