You know those caregivers who keep it all together? Despite the responsibilities and challenges of caregiving, they still have time to pursue their own interests and they make time for friends, fun, and even fitness. How do they do it?
In talking to working daughters all across the country, I've observed that successful, happy caregivers do some things differently than most caregivers. Here's what:
1. They accept their situation. Successful caregivers don't waste precious time and energy lamenting or resisting their role as caregiver. Sure, they complain sometimes, but mostly they have accepted that caregiving is part of their life -- right now -- and they create a plan for it. Research shows that caregivers who feel more in control and accepting of their roles are more likely to realize positive benefits from caregiving.
2. They practice self care. We all know it; self care is so important, especially for caregivers. Successful caregivers actually do it. They know that they must secure their own oxygen mask before helping others. Whether it's exercising daily, meditating, getting enough sleep, or carving out some "me" time very week, they are not ashamed to put their needs first. They know it's what gives them the strength to care for others.
3. They prioritize their own life. Successful caregivers know that elder care isn't forever -- it just feels that way. They know they need to have a life to return to when their caregiving role ends, and so they maintain their careers and their relationships. They know they can put themselves first and still be an attentive, responsible caregiver.
4. They set boundaries. Successful caregivers balance their own needs with the needs of the people they care for because they have the courage to set boundaries. They know their limits and they say no to requests that push them.
5. They tune out critics. When you are the primary caregiver, there are always plenty of people willing to tell you what you are doing wrong and what you could do better. Successful caregivers tune out those critics. They are confident that they are doing the best they can and they don't internalize negative feedback -- including their own!
6. They focus on the big picture. Successful caregivers have bad days and get overwhelmed just like everyone else. They work through those moments by keeping the big picture in mind. They know that their caregiving experiences, despite challenging them, are allowing them to truly connect with someone in a way some people never do and to be of service to someone in a time of need. They know these experiences will change them, and ultimately make them stronger.
This post first appeared on Working Daughter.