11 Strategies to Help You Cope


11 Strategies to Help You Cope

lago-bleu-200429_640It's said that it's not what happens to us but how we respond to what happens to us. In essence, it's how we cope.

I've put together a list of 11 coping strategies that may help you respond better to what's happening to you during the day.

1. A Solutions Fund
Start an account (either an actual bank account or simply an envelope) that funds solutions for boredom, breaks and back-up plans. Contribute a weekly amount, even if only $5, and allow yourself flexibility in how you use the money. Use the fund for your caree, for the house, for you.

Use the Solutions Fund for your caree to hire services such as home health, adult day services or to purchase games from Marbles the Brain Store or products from The Alzheimer's Store or activities from eNASCO. Use the fund for your house (or your caree's) to hire a cleaning service (even if just once year right before or after the holidays), lawn maintenance, snow removal. The fund could buy you services from a counselor or life coach, or go toward pampering services, adult education classesor supplies you need for your hobby.

2. A Personal Paradise
Call a spare bedroom or a corner in the basement your own. Add your favorite things (books, chocolate, candles, scrapbook, journal, music, TV, videos, photography, family photos) to make the space a retreat you love to use.

3. Two Lists: A Job Jar List and a When I Can, I Will List
A family caregiver in a support group once shared what she considered to be a shameful secret. A friend gives her regular breaks, for which she is immensely grateful. The problem? She has no idea what to do with her extra time.

Your day is so full of action and worries that downtime can seem to doom you. No worries—we’ve got a great suggestion. Create two lists, Job Jar and When I Can I Will, that stay put on your fridge so your lists can be easily updated.

Job Jar List
Your brother-in-law calls and says, “I have a free afternoon this weekend. I’ll stop to help out.” Your instinct may be to answer, “That’s okay, I’ve got everything under control” simply because you may think, “What in the world can he help with?”


As you go about your day, take note of chores to which you say, “I should do that, but I just don’t have time.” Maybe it’s fixing the nicks in the wall from the wheelchair, or cleaning out the car, or picking up books at the library. These are great chores to assign to others.

When I Can I Will List
When you have an idea of an place or activity you’d like to enjoy, write it down. For instance, when a new movie opens that looks good, write it down. When a friend suggests a great place to take a walk, write it down. When you pass a restaurant that looks good, write it down. When you think, I’d love to do that some day, write it down.

These two lists work well together. When a volunteer offers to help, ask them to choose a chore from your Job Jar list. While they help out, take some time for yourself; you’ll have plenty of ideas from your When I Can, I Will list.

4. Two Journals
Keep journals—one about your caree and one about you. The journal about your caree contains a synopsis of day-to-day care needs; meals, bowel movements, weight, medications, moods, difficulties. You also record doctor visits, recommendations and treatment options.

Your caree’s journal is a great resource for you as seek the best care options possible, as well as you detail the reality of your caree’s care needs. It also becomes a manual for those who may have to step in and take your place on a short-term basis.

The journal about you chronicles your experiences–what hurts, what aches, what works, what succeeds. This is for your eyes only, so feel free to describe exactly how you feel. Your journal can become a great place to vent. Use our weekly family caregiver care plans to help you document what helps you feel better. (Feel free to join us in our Community Caregiving Journal. And, any member of Caregiving.com can start a caregiving blog.)

5. Permission to Cry.
Maybe you don't want to cry everywhere you feel like crying, but you'll want to make sure that you give yourself time to cry. Tears heal. And, you need healing.

6. A Place to Vent.
If you keep it in, it will come out in the worst possible way at the worst possible time, like in line at the grocery store. Find someone or some place where you can vent without guilt. After you let it, don't let guilt over what you said or what you felt keep you stuck in the past. Vent, then move on. Venting isn't a judgment about you, your caree or your situation. It's a way to cope.

Feel free to vent about your caregiving day in our Forums.

7. A Fresh Start.
Yesterday probably contains moments you regret. Give yourself a chance to do better today. Don't let the regret keep you in the past, let it motivate you to be better today. You may feel better with a fresh start when you focus on the positives; please feel free to join our Three Positives group.

8. An Energizing Activity.
The emotions of caregiving will drain so it's important to find an activity that energizes you. I include television as an energizing activity. Certain TV shows like TLC's The Little Couple and Food Network's The Pioneer Woman give me hope, which gives me energy. Your activity could be bike riding (this also energizes me), reading, listening to music, writing, cooking, gardening, working and especially napping.

9. A Way to Give Back.
You may think, I can't give anymore. Giving back—to another family caregiver, to a community organization, to a favorite charity—is an incredibly purpose-full activity. Giving back could be posting an encouraging comment on a family caregiver's blog. It could be sending a “thank you” note to a service provider, friend, or organization that really helps you. It could be raising money once a year to fund research toward curing your caree's disease process. It could volunteering to help children in your community with their homework.

When you engage in a meaningful activity, you step outside of yourself. When you're giving back, you can't be stuck in self-pity. If you can stay out of self pity, you'll find your days to be much easier.

10. Time with Nature.
Gazing at the stars, like @janshriver does, or walking through a garden reminds you of the beauty of our world. Nature can quiet, comfort, take your breath away. If you can't get out to explore it, then visit websites which feature it, like CNN's pictorial of 50 U.S. wonders or National Geographic's Photo of the Day. It may be just what you need.

11. A Good Laugh
Just as tears heal, laughter brings in a better perspective. When you can laugh, you can keep moving your though your day. I often say that the business of caregiving is a serious one, which is why it calls for a great sense of humor. When you can laugh, you can truly cope.

What would you add to the list? Share your coping strategies in our comments section, below.

(Some of the tips are adapted from my book, The Caregiving Years: Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey.)

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<a href='http://www.m40.siteground.biz/~caregiv6/members/beachmom/' rel=\"nofollow\">@beachmom</a> I'm so glad you are jumping into our discussions with your insights. :) It's great to have you with us!


These suggestions sound great. I am so used to being on the giving end, that I have had a hard time with \"receiving\" and asking for help. The suggested \"Job jar\" and \"When I can I will\" are a great way for me to get started.