If you are a caregiver in the United States, you are one of approximately 44.4 million unpaid women and men who provide care to an adult 18 years of age or older according to the National Organization for Women .
Caregivers often have to make adjustments to their personal and professional lives to ensure decisions are made on behalf of a loved one. These are often parents, children or other family members who have been instrumental in our lives and we feel a duty and obligation to see that they receive the best care possible.
It’s important to remember to treat those we care for with as much dignity and respect as possible. They probably never imagined they would need the level of care that you might be providing for them.
I do not purport to be an expert on this issue and certainly can’t speak to everyone’s experience but do have my own caregiver story to tell. Some may approach this role with a joyful heart because they wouldn’t have it any other way while others feel a great sense of responsibility and duty to do what they feel is right.
The caregiver role can be emotionally draining and stressful during the holidays. These unsung heroes often feel weighed down, burdened and guilty for wanting to have just a little time for themselves. According to the National Organization for Women, Caregivers most frequently report unmet needs:
- Finding time for themselves (35%).
- Managing emotional and physical stress (29%).
- Balancing work and family responsibilities (29%).
The estimated value of informal care that women alone provides amounts to $148 – 188 billion dollars.
I would like to offer a kind ‘thanks’ to all of you caring for a child, family member, spouse or other loved one with a physical or mental disability. It can be a very lonely experience best understood by those who’ve had a similar experience.
I humbly offer these suggestions for you to find a moment to savor during the upcoming holidays. It is possible and I wish you a wonderful lightness of being filled with peace, joy and hope.
- Take time each day for yourself.
- Exercise to relieve stress, try yoga or pilates and learn stress relieving breathing techniques.
- Eat healthy foods for energy and balance.
- Find an activity you enjoy and devote time to it daily.
- Join or start a support group in your area.
- Make an effort to connect with others daily.
- Recognize depression and deal with it if signs appear.
- Maintain a healthy self image.
- Let go of guilt and acknowledge to yourself that you are doing the best you can.
- Reach out to friends and family for support.
- Write about your feelings in a journal or write letters of support to yourself.
- Be inspired by the good times with your loved one.
- Treat yourself to a little something special like a latte, a great book or a new haircut.
Blessings and Happy Holidays!