Caregiving: Tips for Staying Sane
Summary: Caregivers often have an overwhelming number of tasks to complete, appointments to track, and all other aspects of their patients lives to balance and manage. Along with that, their own personal lives can be hindered and affected due to the lack of time, organization and failure to prioritize correctly. Here you can learn tips on how to stay sane and keep life rolling along smoothly.
As a beginning caregiver, you may have an overwhelming number of tasks to do, documents and medical records to find and file, and details to track. You might also be managing the legal, financial, and medical plans for your patient, along with their doctor’s appointments, therapists, medical tests, and appointments; household matters, milestones, memories; personal items and activities; and your caregiving team. If you are also working a paid job, you have an even larger mountain of tasks to accomplish each and every day. Your personal life may include care for your children or other family members, along with your patient. The amount of work now being asked of you may seem like it’s too much and completely impossible. The good news is that it is not impossible! But it will take some adjustments, honest conversations, and being real about your life.
Thankfully for all caregivers, the internet gives us the tools and tips needed, at the moment we need them, making the job a bit easier. There are only so many hours in the day, therefore being organized, or learning how to become extremely organized will help with your caregiving process. Spending time on organization and making a plan at the beginning of your caregiving journey will help the rest of the journey flow smoothly.
How to Best Manage your Time
Time-management skills can make a huge difference in your day-to-day life as a caregiver. Consider some of these approaches when caregiving, and in all other aspects of your life.
- Make a list. Create a list for every aspect of your life, charting everything you’d like to do, need to do, and want to do. Some people make their lists into categories, and others go by the time frames they have to complete a task. Lists are beneficial to help visually see the things that need to be done, and once completed, the relief and proud feelings that come from being done with each task are very mentally beneficial.
- Nix procrastination. Procrastination will only make you feel worse about all of the jobs you still need to accomplish. Rather than putting it off, take the time to do it immediately. Repeatedly practicing this method will help you to stop procrastinating in the future.
- Prioritize. List what you need to get done, and then order them from one to ten (or however many tasks you have) by their importance level. You can also list other activities, child-related happenings, partner intimacy or time for dating, and any thing else you need to prioritize in your life.
- Focus on one task, or priority, at a time. Choose your top priority off of your list and begin there. When you’ve completed this task, you will feel a sense of accomplishment for being able to highlight it off of your list. Once you have finished the most important task, choose which tasks are the next two important, and continue so on. Once you have learned this method, your lists will not feel as intimidating.
- Manage your expectations. The sooner you can learn to understand that your to-do list will never, ever be fully done. Instead of only feeling successful when your lists are completed, find the same relief in finishing any task you manage each day. Even if it is only the laundry or dishes.
- Work on your task for short amounts of time. If you are facing a task that seems impossible, just begin the task for a few minutes at a time. Little by little, this will help you to finish the project without overwhelming yourself or your mind.
- Be mindful. When your mind is scattered and being pulled in thirteen different ways, you lessen your own ability to function, process, and complete tasks. Work on focusing on one task at a time.
- “Touch it once.” Most all organization experts and therapists will tell you that you should only touch a piece of paper once. This means when the mail comes, you should take time to read each piece (when necessary) and do the task, complete the bill, or file the document where it goes the FIRST time. Many people will make a pile for themselves to visit at a later date, but then lose these documents or the pile before they have had a chance to go through it.
- Set up systems. You should find simple systems to implement that can help you with the day to day functions of the caregiver. This will help to prevent any wasting time and bring consistency to your caregiving routine. There are many cell phone apps and programs that can help you track appointments, medication schedules, and more.
- Define roles and responsibilities. Clear roles help to prevent arguments and fights in the future. Even if the roles may change at some point, clearly defining them at the beginning can help to save turmoil. This means that the patient and family members can decide who will help with medical records, who will help with everyday living, who will handle the finances, and so on. This might be one person, or many members of the family stepping in to assist.
- Plan ahead. You will always be able to save time if you’ve had a chance to think the situation through and are prepared for any outcomes that could arise.
Taking care of yourself while caregiving can be a challenge in itself. Finding the time to prioritize yourself while ensuring your patient is getting all they need can feel very lonely and isolating. By taking steps to help manage your time and stay sane, you can help yourself to remain less stressed and productive in your own life.
If you have questions about reducing your stress to be a better bodied caregiver, contact your doctor, therapist, or reach out to our Reclaiming Intimacy Through H.O.P.E. team.
Goyer, Amy. Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving. ISBN9781634251631