Adapted from elizz.com with author’s permission.
Perhaps as caregivers, you’d become accustomed to managing, coping and trying to figure things out. Encountering the pandemic future with all its uncertainties is overwhelming. Caregivers are being thrown off their routines as they try to stay afloat in the sea of added responsibilities. Caregivers often fully know they need time to care for themselves and yet carry guilt for not doing so.
At Silent Heroes, we have discovered some common threads of the caregiving experience during COVID-19:
- It’s hard enough being a caregiver, let alone in a pandemic.
- Dad’s day program is cancelled for, geez, who knows how long?
- My Mom is so out of sorts with all the changes to her routine.
- “I’m so sorry. We just can’t help you at this time because of the coronavirus,” said the community agency
- I have no choice except to work from home. The quarantine makes everyone so edgy, even my da*n cat is on edge!
- I want things back to normal. I feel everything is out of my control.
What can be done?
Take it “one day at a time.” This tried-and-true slogan, used in the recovery movement, has been life-altering for many people in 12-step programs and can undoubtedly apply to family caregivers too.
Every day begins with a sunrise and ends with a sunset, and we all share the same 24 hours. Facing life one day at a time is a more doable way to get through caregiving responsibilities. Sometimes breaking things down into more manageable segments of time like just for this hour or for the next five minutes can make all the difference to a caregiver.
Try a “just for today” activity.
Just for today…I will phone and connect with someone.
Call a friend, and let them know you were thinking about them. The call doesn’t have to be lengthy. Funny thing, at the end of the call you won’t know who uplifted who.
Just for today…I will allow a “worry” period.
Set an alarm for 30 minutes to worry (preferably early on in your day) so that the rest of the time becomes a worry-free zone. As you develop the skill of postponing worrying, you also begin to realize that you have more control than you think.
Just for today…I will get out of my pajamas.
While working from home, get dressed as though going to the office. This will help you get ready for the day and set you in a work state of mind. We know what staying in your pajamas makes you really want to do.
Just for today… I will take five minutes for myself.
You may not have the caregiver relief/respite you’d come to depend on pre-COVID. You are most likely catching snippets of time for yourself here and there and when and where you can. Take a five-minute snippet to pay attention to your breath and breathe mindfully. Slowly but surely, five minute breathing can become a new habit that decreases your stress.
Just for today…I will take a moment to watch the birds outside my window.
Observing birds is a great opportunity to simply be present and think calming thoughts.
Just for today…I will look into trying an online support group.
“Kiera,” a daughter caring for her mother with dementia, relayed that she’d never considered online support until recently. Her mother regularly followed her within the home. She was anxious and constantly asking Kiera about her activities and whereabouts. Kiera was able to take breaks with playing games and reading Facebook posts on her tablet as long as Mom had her in sight. One evening, Kiera took a chance and registered for a virtual adult child caregiver support group. Using her tablet, she nonchalantly plugged in her ear buds, joined in on the group, and listened in as others shared about their caregiving experiences. Kiera was able to participate by typing her sharing in the online chat feature. Mom could see her “playing” on the tablet. In the mean time, Kiera received validation and support from her caregiving peers without Mom suspecting a thing.
An Inspirational Poem: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
There are two days in every week
about which we should not worry,
Two days which should be kept free of fear and apprehension.
One of these days is YESTERDAY,
With its mistakes and cares,
Its faults and blunders,
Its aches and pains.
YESTERDAY has passed forever beyond our control.
All the money in the world cannot bring back YESTERDAY.
We cannot undo a single act we performed;
We cannot erase a single word we said.
YESTERDAY is gone.
The other day we should not worry about is TOMORROW
With its possible adversities, its burdens, its larger promise.
TOMORROW is also beyond our immediate control.
TOMORROW, the sun will rise,
Either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds,
But it will rise.
Until it does, we have no stake in TOMORROW
For it is as yet unborn.
This leaves only one day – TODAY.
Any man can fight the battles of just one day.
It is only when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternities
– YESTERDAY and TOMORROW –
That we break down.
It is not the experience of TODAY that drives men mad.
It is remorse or bitterness for something which happened YESTERDAY
And the dread of what TOMORROW may bring.
Let us, therefore, live but ONE day at a time.
Please tell us in the comments how “one day at at time” has worked for you in your role as caregiver.