Well, looks like we took an unplanned one week vacation. Sure didn’t mean for that to happen. Guess reaching five hundred posts was more traumatic than we thought. Anyway, we had quite a week with care giving duties, cable and Internet outages, and a much needed vacation. Sometimes the problem with taking time off as a caregiver, unexpected or otherwise, is that it is difficult to get back into the swing of caring for someone. When we are away from the situation and are not directly responsible for the person we are caring for we begin to relax and let go of the tension and focus that we had placed on that person.
What we need to do when taking a time-out:
- Relax - Sometimes we just need to sleep or otherwise lay around to let our mind and body relax. Let your muscles allow the tension to drain away. It’s okay to get emotional during this time. Sometimes tears fall as we relax and realize we have some time to ourselves. As caregivers, we are often expected to go beyond what our bodies and minds can handle. That is especially dangerous if it happens too often or over too long a period of time. Very easy for burnout to occur. Those who have ever struggled with burnout know that it is very difficult to get back to our normal selves, if we ever really do.
- Replenish – Take time to allow your body and mind to replenish. Follow a healthy diet plan, drink plenty of water, get plenty of sleep. Go ahead – be a slug if you want. It’s okay. Start taking short walks. Get some fresh air. As you walk, look at the world around you – the blue skies, trees and flowers along your path. Listen to the wind, to the birds, or other animal or people sounds around you. If you are out in the country away from civilization, enjoy the peace and quiet.
- Refocus - We need to hone in on what our aging senior needs in the way of physical, mental, and emotional assistance. What can we do for them or do we need to seek or bring in outside help. How can we give them what they need while maintaining who we are? We need to make sure that we can keep some of that relaxation and replenishment for a while.
Don’t be shy about reaching out for help from others. We may need to do that more often as our aging loved one loses ground. Depending on whether they have a specific illness or are just fading due to age, let those who are more experienced begin to take over the care or give you ideas and suggestions as to what your loved one needs.
When you have the time to take a one week vacation, or two weeks, or even a month – grab it hard! Allow your body and mind to regain strength, renew your energy, replenish your body and mind, and when you come back to care giving, you can refocus on what is important and what to let go. You will be the better for the time you took off!