Sunday, February 1, 2009

Things you can do to encourage yourself

Welcome! I was thinking about how stressful each day can be when you take care of someone, whether it's an aging parent or even your young children.

Whether you are part of the sandwich generation--caring for elderly parents while your children are still at home or part of your daily life--there's just something about someone else depending on you for help each day.

Are you inside the same four walls most of the time? Do you drive somewhere every day to spend time taking care of a loved one, or visit them in some type of care facility? You can begin to feel burned out, overwhelmed, or alone.

Learn to build special moments into your routine.

What are some things you can do to encourage yourself each day?

~ Keep a good sense of humor! It helps tremendously!

~ Read something encouraging every day. I read online devotionals and feed my spirit with the blessings of knowing God is in control even if I can't see or feel Him. It quiets me while I do the next thing.

~ Do the next thing! Some days the elephant just seems too big to eat. If you feel like you'll never finish, just remember that you eat an elephant one bite at a time. Just do the next thing. It's just a bite, but you'll get results because you're moving forward. Small steps count!

~ Spend some time on a hobby. Don't have one? What do you really love to do? What's a passion of yours? Sewing? Knitting? Reading? Scrap booking? Working puzzles? Journaling? Talking on the phone to a close friend? Talking to a support group on the Internet? Just a few minutes each day can help refresh you!

~ Take a break to drink a hot cup of your favorite tea or coffee. Eat a piece of fruit or some toast along with it. Nourish yourself with food and with some quiet downtime.

~ Reach out to others who can encourage you. If you can't get out of the house, you may be able to find like-minded people in an Internet support group. Caring for someone requires venting sometimes. Or you may just need to know you're not alone!

~ If you can get out some, then think about what encourages you. Many people find that doing things for others helps their own problems feel smaller, or at least it gets the problems off their mind for a little while. Volunteering for some cause in your community is a great way to make friends and do something enjoyable outside your home. Even driving through a lovely section of your town can be soothing.

~ Exercise! Walk outside or on your treadmill, ride a stationary bike, do yoga (our daughter finds that yoga works great for her). You can choose the kind of class you'd feel most comfortable in, or you can practice yoga at home with music of your choice. The stretching and de-stressing techniques are excellent. Or you can jog, or belly dance, or whatever feels wonderful to your body. Just 15, 30, or 45 minutes a day will help your metabolism, which in turn helps your mood.

~ Eat good food! Add fresh foods and whole grain foods; go organic on some things if you would like to. If you eat a lot of sugar you can begin to feel sluggish (ask me how I know that!), but it's quickest to grab something sugary when you're in a hurry. If you can put a couple of yummy alternatives in the fridge for those quick snack breaks, you can slowly train yourself to grab one of those instead. Yogurt, fresh bananas or beautiful red strawberries, ripe blueberries, a bowl of good cereal, a fresh salad of your choice--all of these pack a nutritious punch that will help you get through your day in positive, good spirits.

~ Play music! Whatever kind of music lifts your spirits, play that for yourself. You can keep a radio or stereo on so that you can hear it in the background wherever you are. Many televisions now offer satellite music channels--find a favorite or try a new channel each day.

None of this has to take a long time, but it's important to plan things for yourself as part of your daily routine. Again, small things count!

Learn to de-stress and have some small periods of respite during your very busy, or even hectic, day. If some of these ideas won't work for you, then think about what would work to give you that boost--and DO it!

Taking regular or constant care of another person is a huge job. It takes a lot of commitment and a lot of energy. You can't take care of them if you don't take care of yourself. It isn't selfish--it's wise!

Encourage yourself and commit to do good things for YOUR self, too! It will help brighten some of your days, and help you get through other days.

Remember that care giving is a marathon, not a sprint. Be good to yourself by building special moments into your day.


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