The Caregiver Cup Podcast

7 Questions To Ask When Nothing Seems To Be Working In Your Caregiver Life

February 20, 2024 Cathy VandenHeuvel Episode 201
The Caregiver Cup Podcast
7 Questions To Ask When Nothing Seems To Be Working In Your Caregiver Life
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In this episode, I share what to do when it feels like nothing is working in your caregiver life because these times are tough when you are the primary caregiver and feel alone and like you're the only one dealing with hard times.  I share my approach that helps me and my clients navigate the tough times and come out stronger on the other side.   I share my step-by-step process (which includes 7 questions to ask yourself) for assessing the stressful situation and creating a focused and intentional plan to move forward.  All along the way we also check in with your mental health to ensure that you're taking care of yourself as well as your loved done.  

Takeaways:  You are not alone in experiencing challenges in your caregiver life.  Caregiving is hard and it will have it's ups and downs.  Stop being so hard on yourself.  You are doing the best you can.  So grant yourself grace.  Assess the situation by pausing, checking in on yourself and identifying your stress.  Focus on what you can control and take intentional action.  find accountability and support to focus and navigate your tough seasons.  Remember the lessons learned from tough seasons for future challenges and to become a better you.  

Blog Post: Question To Check In With Yourself - https://www.cathylvan.com/blog/201

Get my free resource:  17 SHIFTS TO TAKE CONTROL OF CAREGIVER STRESS that will take you to the best version of yourself.

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Cathy:

Well, hello, my friend, and welcome to another episode of the Caregiver Cup podcast. I'm going to start out by talking about the documentary I just watched. I recently watched the June Carter Cash documentary on Paramount. It was called June. She talked about being a caregiver so that caught my ear right away for Johnny Cash, her spouse. He was addicted to amphetamines. She talked about how exhausting and stressful it was to care give for somebody with an addiction. In the documentary I'm going to give you just some dates.

Cathy:

In 1983, johnny went to the Betty Ford Clinic in Rancho Mirage I think it was in California for treatment. June got asked to join a caregiver support group there and shared her therapy just a really small clip in on the documentary. But one thing that struck out to me she said that caregivers caring for an addict usually don't live longer than spouses, and she says as a matter of fact, that's just a general rule across the board. And so she needed to go ahead and start intentionally finding practices to lower her stress, finding healthy outlets for her own well-being and really intentionally finding practices to release stress and anxiety and that overwhelm. And so in this support group she talked a lot about them doing fun outlets like painting and games and laughing and dancing and doing outings together and so on. She said they said so what was it like? And she said well, it was like playing like we were kids and being able to do that. So it got me thinking about how important your well-being is and the continuous work we, as caregivers, need to do to release our own stress and anxiety and overwhelm and find ways to live a healthier caregiver life.

Cathy:

So today, in this episode of the caregiver cup podcast, I'm talking today about when you feel like nothing is working as a caregiver and you might feel like hopeless and you're, you're getting so down on yourself and you have little hope that things will ever change for you. First of all, my friend, I want to tell you you are not alone, and so this podcast is going to be a mix of tactical things, but it's also going to be a mix of inspirational things. There are three things to remember in this caregiving season that you're in, and I want to go through these. The first one is just like I talked about you are not alone. I know this can be annoying to hear, because it doesn't take away that you're in this tough season. You're in this, this state of hopelessness and I want to recognize this because you will hear this from others. I may say it to you as well. I even said that to myself so many times that, yeah, you are not alone, but I am alone. I've been there, so it shall pass and soon shall pass, or you just have to hang in there, and sometimes it's just a pain to hear, but it really does matter. When I hear this and really hear this myself, I'm able to lift my head up and really see the landscape of caregiving and really see how others are feeling and doing to get through this. And it's really interesting seeing that one caregiver fighting through the blocks and navigating through their feelings is just like my own. And so that's the first thing I want to talk to you about. And you have to remember that you are not alone, and others will understand it, especially other caregivers, especially me here, kathy, sitting behind this mic. I get it. I get how hard it is to hear that, but I also understand when you go ahead and let go of your feelings regarding that, those words, I am not alone then you can be more open to kind of taking in more information.

Cathy:

Number two is caregiving is hard and it's a tough pill to swallow. It's so hard, and we didn't sign up for this as caregivers. But we can choose to decide how to show up in this hard season and what we want to be in this hard season. Caregiving has its ups and downs and I had a therapist tell me this and I understood, but I really didn't understand when she told me it's a hard season. I understood it, but I really didn't think about it.

Cathy:

I kept telling myself that when I get through this, I'll be able to be better or I'll do better. I will do better once the season is done and I'll take care of myself. But really, when does it really get done and at what cost? Well, the ups and downs will keep coming and you can't remain at bay. You have to work through them in your present state and adjust and pivot. And when you have to dip into this hard season, you have to weather through the storm and then navigate it, which requires you to shift. Why am I trying to say this? Some of those hard seasons are just a storm, right, and others are the reality of your life and require us to shift. And if I would have just swept in underneath the rug, here I am six plus years later, almost seven years later, and my husband, dennis, is still fighting through his cancer. I couldn't, my body couldn't sustain the stress and the trauma I was putting it through if I just remained the same.

Cathy:

So number three is stop being so hard on yourself and if you're anything like me, I am extremely hard on yourself. Just because you missed something or forgot something or made a mistake doesn't mean you are a bad person or you're fangirling. We can't control everything. We can't do it all. Sometimes our bodies are sending us signals because of the stress and overwhelm. Instead, ask yourself what went wrong, why is this happening? And work towards a better plan. Work towards a healthier you. I just want you to remember these three things you are not alone. Caregiving is hard and stop being so hard on yourself, especially when you're having a bad day. So that's kind of my first pace of the inspiration.

Cathy:

Next we're going to talk about how to break it all down and start figuring this out. When you are going through this tough season, the first thing I want you to remember and do is you want to take action by slowing down and really assessing the situation first. You might be saying I can't stop and slow down. There is no way, since there is so much to do 24-7. If I don't and if you don't do it all and get it all done, it will never get done, and that's what you're telling yourself. But is that truly true? I can't tell my loved one, wait right, that's what you're telling yourself. But reality is, you will not figure it out until you pause and you break right away.

Cathy:

That comes to my mind as I've been watching a lot of crime stuff and they have to pause and investigate the scene of the crime before they try to frantically figure out who killed somebody and go after them. It's the same situation. I've been told this many times, kathy, you need to slow down, by my friends, by my coach, by my therapist and other caregivers and, trust me, I've rolled my eyes, trust me, I've said those things. But and so when stressful situations occur, I have to continue to tell myself Kathy, just stop and pause, don't panic, don't stress. Or if I can't stop, when can I stop? Let me get this done and then I'll find a moment to process this in just a minute.

Cathy:

The analogy that comes to mind and it's much better than the crime one is let's say, you're on this drive and you put the location destination in your phone or your GPS on your phone and you have to go to this appointment and you're on a time appointment. Maybe you have an interview, maybe you have a doctor's appointment, whatever it would be. When you're trying to get to this event or appointment and your phone now says to you because it's really busy, so you have a hard time looking down at your phone. So you have the audio on and it says turn north and then 1000 feet, turn west, and you're like north west and right away don't you turn the wrong way, right away don't you turn another wrong way. And what does the GPS say? It's either saying recalculating or it's saying go down 100 feet and turn on this street and go down this place.

Cathy:

And eventually you're so stressed because you are feel like you're out in La La Land and you're lost. And what do you do? You continue to stress and for the longest time I would just continue to drive and try to pick up my phone and instead of grabbing the phone or keep going, what you want to do is find a parking lot or find, pull over to the side of the road and pause, gather yourself, because you're racing and you're stressing because you're going to be late, and then let the GPS calculate, which gives you time to look at the route so that you understand where north, south, east and west is and that you can get back to your route. I can do this for the GPS but, to be honest with you, this is really hard for me to do in caregiving and I have to continually remind myself. So I hope you use this as a reminder for yourself to pause.

Cathy:

If you are in a tough season and feeling overwhelmed, this is time to pause right now. Now I know you can't just stop and quit what you are doing most of the time, but what can you pause for a moment and what can you allow to recalibrate? When you can do this, you can make smarter decisions and see what you can shift and possibly change. This pause might be for a day, this pause may be for a half a day. This pause might be time when your loved one is taking, or in therapy, or taking a nap, or maybe you only can pause for an hour.

Cathy:

I don't know what it will be for you, but for me it usually is a day or a half a day when that stress is bubbling over and I have to find time to pause and get to the root of my overwhelming stress and really see what I really need to do. For me, it usually starts with a good cry or I need to rest because I am so overtired, or I go for a walk and then quiet thinking about what I need to do. In the past, when I was working full time, I sometimes needed to take a PTO day from work or a mental health day to look and really look at the situation. Or when Dennis was in chemotherapy and I was edgy and snappy during the doctor's appointment, I went for a walk during his chemotherapy and Dennis knew that I wasn't myself that day and I said I really need to take a walk. And I was going like you know how you cut your throat and put your hand across your throat and just think I'm over the top done. That's what I would do Now during the pause.

Cathy:

You want to check in with your mental health and I have some simple questions that I ask myself, and I mean really simple. First of all, it's kind of like a triage nurse in a way. This will help determine if you're taking care of yourself, meaning the basic things you need Ask yourself have I drank water today? Have I been outside? Have I eaten? This is silly, but for me, have I had a regular bowel movement which tells me if I've been taking care of myself, or am I inflamed or whatever? Have I moved my body? Have I slept well and getting enough sleep? Have I connected with someone lately or did something I treasure or enjoy? These are the first questions I ask myself, because if I've been isolated for a really long time, I forget about the basics.

Cathy:

If any of your questions are a no, then you want to pick one to two and focus on these this week. There's a lot to these questions. They are important to check in with yourself, because you are busy taking care of others and we forget the importance of our basic needs. Remember, if you're feeling stressed and overwhelmed, your mind and body will signal to you in many ways. Taking a pause and assessing yourself is so very important. Now that you've paused and assessed yourself, it's now time to move forward. The space you give yourself depends on the situation and how much stress you're under and the time you have. But once you've done this, I want you to ask yourself after you ask yourself those basic questions. I want you to ask yourself the seven questions that I have for you today, that I'm about to share with you, and do it with intention and focus. They're so powerful questions that I think will help you understand and develop a pattern and a practice.

Cathy:

Because within a tough season or within a season where nothing seems to be working and life has you feeling overwhelmed and hopeless maybe you even are panicking or you're frustrated or trying to do it all, feeling like you are an autopilot or nothing is going to get you to less stress and more joy. You're feeling hopeless or you're saying it's not going to get you to less stress and a better self. You can. When you ask these questions, you can move from less stress to more joy. You can move from less anger to a better self. You can move from frustrated and autopilot to finding some breaths throughout the day. So it's better to find out what's working and where you can shift and change. It may be doing less yourself and the things you do are giving you more quality time with your loved one. Now, when you heard that, what did you think? Giving yourself, telling yourself you have to do less. It's going to. We need to figure this out, giving you re-energized to show up as your better self Right away. I think about do you need to do the laundry today, or is it just, or can it wait for a day, or, you know? Can you go ahead and, instead of making the big meal, is there something you can do that's more convenient, and I'll talk about that in a little bit.

Cathy:

Any time I'm working with a client and they're super stressed or feeling stuck and have a lot of emotion with it, we want to take it down. We want to find out the root cause and try to strategize to reduce the stress and the overall task that they do. I know reality as caregivers and we think that they can, we can do it all right, but you and I can't do it all. That's the reality of the situation. So when I'm working with that client, we map out all their tasks for the week and then I tell them to cross off the ones that are not necessary or they can get someone else to do. We slow down and do less and everyone struggles with this. Everyone struggles with guilt, with shame, which, with letting go of the control.

Cathy:

That caregiver feels like they are not doing enough and in reality they have these little pieces of time that are maybe five minutes here or five minutes there, or their their pace is a little bit slower and they feel like they're doing something wrong. When I check in with them halfway through the week, they usually ask me if they can take on more and I'm like no, you have to learn that you, this is the pace, this is the the place that you should be. And I tell them no, the purpose right now is to slow down. Less is more, especially when you're really stressed out. I have to remind myself of this all the time. Anyone who knows me will tell you that Kathy can't sit down. I can't, and I can't relax, and it's hard for me to do. I am getting so much better than I was a year ago, but it's still something that I'm constantly working out. That's why I need personally need a coach and accountability partners to teach me that I don't have to live in this chaotic, stressful, panic stricken life. I don't have to have a laundry list of things to do every day. I can slow down.

Cathy:

So here are seven questions that will help you move forward during tough times in your caregiving life. I want you to really focus on these questions and when you're going through the tough times in life, you're going to go ahead and do the pause and assess, ask the basic questions, but when you get to the pausing, here's some of the questions I want you to go through and really walk through these questions, whether you do those in a journaling perspective or you do those just as an out loud perspective. I will have these questions in the notes, especially in my blog notes. Number one question is who are one to three people that I can talk to honestly about this situation? The reason you need to do this? To get out of the state of mind you are in.

Cathy:

If you don't get out of the state of mind and out of your brain, you will keep convincing yourself that this is the way it is and you will keep confirming it. Like I'm stuck, things will never change. I suck at this. I don't want you to ruminate on this alone and your thoughts alone. Talk to someone. A therapist is great, but you can also find a friend, a partner, a caregiving friend, a coach or a coach to go through these questions, but you need to find someone who you know and trust and tell them. I need to work through this and I need you to listen and guide me, but not protect me, not convince me, not jump on the bandwagon with me. Let me just honestly walk through this and talk through this, because the ultimate goal is to figure out a plan, and so this person needs to really be somebody that you can trust and honestly be that good listener. I could never. Dennis is a good listener, but Dennis wants to fix things, and so I can talk to him up to certain points. But I have my friend Julie, I have my sister Connie, I have my accountability partners, naomi and Amy, that I use to go ahead and do this.

Cathy:

Question number two after you do that, is what are your points of stress right now? Chances are, the challenges are so heavy that the list of things to do is so long and you are feeling just overwhelmed. You're probably saying this is too many things to do, this is too many things to think about, this is too many things to stress about. Just know that I felt this way as well and still feel this way, and there are some days you don't know if you're ever going, if it will ever stop or it will ever get better. I understand, I'm not trying to say it's easy. That's why it's important to understand what the stress is right now and where it's coming from. Otherwise it will get worse, and I speak from experience. I was the master of just sweeping things under the rug. This is where, in my earlier caregiving days, I hired a therapist, or I went to a therapist and then eventually went to a coach after that. That could help me identify the stress and find ways to alleviate it, because I would go with things like oh my boss, I would blame it on my boss, or I'd blame it on the projects at work, or I'd blame it on the doctor.

Cathy:

When what is the root cause of the stress? What I want you to do is pick one, and most likely that one will help you really get to the root cause and the other points of stress or at least have an impact on them. Here's an example Maybe your point of stress is feeling exhausted from caring for your loved one's nursing needs all day long and you have to help them with their medications, their bathing, their bathroom duties, their meals, and if they wet the bed, you have to change the sheets, whatever it would be, and nursing isn't just a shift, it's a 24-7 thing. When you think about. All it really comes down to is you're exhausted and your energy bank is either empty or low. You need help and you need a break, but you have to come to that realization with your person that you're speaking with and talking through it. You can't do this every day, every hour, every minute, so breaking it down into smaller chunks may help, picking one thing that can ease your burden as you're talking through it.

Cathy:

That is something I hear a lot from my clients and some of the questions I might ask is can you bring in help three days a week for the bathing and so the bathing isn't on your plate all the time and during that time? Can you do something for yourself during that time? Or can you get caught up with something, whatever it would be? Maybe the next thing then, after we work through getting help, maybe another thing is the meal thing, and I think as I don't know if it's just me, but as women, we're always like, oh my gosh, everybody looks at us for meals, and when I was in the hardest seasons of my life, people would ask me where could I help? How can they help? And maybe it's creating a meal list or a meal menu or a meal calendar and you take people up on it. There are so many wonderful people that love to cook out there and if they're cooking their dinner that night, what does it take to go ahead and cook for an extra person or persons, and they can go ahead and drop it off. Now you would have to supply them with your health, your nutritional do's and don'ts in your loved ones nutritional menu or what they can and cannot eat, and give it to them and then supply that calendar. But how great would it be if somebody brought over I don't know a dish of lasagna for you and your loved one with with bread and salad, and they brought it over the day before and all you have to do is pluck it into the oven and you have dinner already made. How great would that be that.

Cathy:

You know you think about time and your energy. That's less. When you really tackle what your main stressor is, which is the situation like for her for one of my clients it was exhaustion and energy bank was low then you can start looking at ways to get relief and you're not in a panic or moody or frustrated or not yourself. These little steps start going ahead and giving you relief. Chances are there are several things piling up though at once, and you have to figure out what that is. Once you identify your main stressor, though, then we can go to the next question, because now you've worked through your stressor with your that one to two people that you talked to, and you've come up with some sort of experimental plan that you want to try. The next question is what can I control in this situation and what can't I control? There are a lot more that we can't control. There is not much we can do about those things we can't control, but there are other but there, but when we recognize that what I'm trying to get at is, our mind will keep spinning if we focus on the things we can't control. I'll give you an example.

Cathy:

Last week, dennis had his. Every three weeks he's getting his treatment for his cancer, and he gets every three months he gets a scan. Well, his scan came due last Thursday and the results looked pretty good. They looked pretty good as far as holding his own and stable, and his lab result looked good, but this weekend he developed side effects that were pretty severe. As I'm recording this, we're still waiting for the doctor to call, and I'm recording this on Monday about midday and we're waiting for the doctor to call us back to find out how to treat his side effects and stop the pain. What's been happening is he's been having almost like arthritic pain in his knees and his feet and his ankles and his wrists and there's inflammation.

Cathy:

Excessive worry is there for me, but I have to remind myself what can I control, kathy, and versus what? And what can I control Kathy and versus what? And where my mind wants to go? Because my mind wants to go first of all to anger for not getting a call back right away. But it's excessive worrying about what if the treatment doesn't work? What if there's something wrong with his muscles or his bones. Now I'm sitting there spinning. We need to pull over or I need to in this situation and let everything recalibrate. Dennis and I need to think about what we can control, and what we can control is we recorded all of the symptoms that he had on Sunday and today and we're providing that data to the doctor. We can control treating his muscle pain and Dennis was using ice and heat and some of the I don't know some of the gel treatments to go ahead and help with the inflammation and resting and allowing his body to just rest and do what it needs to do.

Cathy:

For me as an advocate, I researched, I recorded my questions and asking the good and right questions for Dennis is key. I can control or I can't control the busy oncology team this Monday, and so I can't control that. But what I can control is getting them to understand his pain and his complaints, because my spouse is very tolerant of pain. He can get a cavity filled without novocaine. He's just that tolerant of pain. But when he complains I know it's serious. So we can control our actions and our thoughts and understand where we're spending our energy. What we can't control is our outlook and where our mind wants to wander. It's okay to be mad. It's okay for me to be pissed off, I'm swearing, worried, frustrated in this tough season, but we you and I have to change our outlook from nothing will be done If we continue to tell ourselves we're just using that negative energy or, for me, thinking the worst. I have to shift it to positive thoughts like Dennis has a great team, it's Monday, it's busy, they're going to get back to us, maybe they're looking into it, talking to other doctors and consulting or scheduling testing. We can't figure this out and we will come out on the other side even better, because we are working through this, okay.

Cathy:

So number four, then, is you're going to ask yourself what is working in this stressful season and what has worked for you before in other stressful situations. I know right now nothing is going well, or you feel like nothing is going well and you feel hopeless and stressed and more. But when you pause and look at the good, look at the positives of the situation and what's working first, you can rationally level out. What comes to mind right now is and I'll go into Dennis's situation what comes to mind right now is, let's say you had an argument with your siblings about helping each other out. You can look at the negatives about they don't want to help, or you can look at the positives by saying now it's bubbling up, now we can have these crucial conversations, now I understand where they're at. At least we're talking. That's how you're going to go ahead and talk about the positives and then you're going to use your past experience to talk about and what's working, or go back to your accountability partner and they can throw out some ideas and questions to ask you Now, with Dennis's situation, like I said, what is working?

Cathy:

His scan results said that he was holding and there were no new tumors. They weren't getting bigger either the ones that were inexistent. His blood work looked very good. But on Sunday, his intense pain. He had intense pain, but he wasn't running a fever, he wasn't sick. We didn't have to go anywhere and we didn't have to. He didn't have work or anything like that, so he could focus on himself and rest.

Cathy:

For me, what was working and what has been worked before in the situation is I reached out to my friend, I had a talk with Julie, I talked to my sister to help me, so I had two people and I got their perspectives and we use these questions and I know what to do when my mind goes to the worst. I know I need to stop it. I have practices that I go ahead and do going for a walk, looking for hearts, heart-shaped objects. I know what I have to do. So, thinking about this question what is working and what has have I done in stressful situations in the past that I need to go ahead and lean into, which leads me to question number five what's realistically possible for me to do now? What is realistically possible for me to do now, based on what's working, so that I can ease the stress that I'm feeling, stop the anxiety and the overwhelm, then I can move ahead once I can and then I can realistically look at the next few days.

Cathy:

So let me break it down. First of all, you need to look at realistically possible for you right now. You need to stop and pause when the moment allows you to, and process the situation. Maybe your loved one barked at you and this is the fourth one today and maybe you just need to go into the kitchen or go into the bathroom and pause and process the situation. Look at the reality of the situation. What can be your go to action that you do in your stressful situation? What are those things in your toolkit, in your pocket, that you do when stressful situations occur? Deep breaths, maybe, hold your heart and saying I'm safe, it'll be okay, they didn't mean it. Whatever you need to do for you, maybe it's a walk, thank you. And there's a cue word that you say to your loved ones by saying I just need to take a walk or I'm going to say something that I'm going to regret and I'll be right back and you, and maybe eventually you have those conversations to say, when you bark at me, I'm going to do this and that sort of situation.

Cathy:

Maybe you allow yourself to sit a bit and just calm down. Whatever it would be drinking a glass of water, texting a friend, whatever it would be, depending on your situation. Then look at what you're physically doing and mentally doing. Do you really need to do everything that you're doing today? Because, physically, caregivers like to sweep it underneath the rug? Caregivers have another thing that they need to do. They need to go ahead and do that. But what I'm telling you is do you really need to get that stuff done? When you're emotionally drained, for example, you get bad news at the doctor's office with your loved one and it's hard to swallow and you're struggling, but you have to make dinner and you have to go ahead and do the laundry. You have to go back to work and keep going. When you just heard bad news, or is it better to grant yourself grace and take a pause and just be able to process it? Because what are you doing to your body and your mind when you're just sweeping it underneath the rug? Or maybe you're saying do something because you have to keep yourself busy?

Cathy:

When my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, there were many times where I had to just stay busy. My house was spot on clean because I processed really well. When I cleaned I could process and think and really do that. Or going for a walk, or when I used to run all the time, I would run better when I had emotion, especially anger or worry. I could run better because I would think through it and process it and I'd be realizing I'm three miles in and I didn't even recognize that I was three miles in. Then go ahead and rearrange that junk drawer, but don't ignore your emotions and your thoughts because you need to process. And if you're cleaning out that junk drawer and that's helping you process, then do it. You have to figure out what works for you. Maybe tell yourself after the junk drawer is done, I'm going to make myself a cup of tea and I'm going to journal out my stress. That might be a ticket for you.

Cathy:

Once the initial stress dust I love that analogy the dust of the stress has settled, move ahead and figure out realistically how can you move through your next few days, because once my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, there was a whole week where I just could not focus. There would be things on TV, there would be things that people would say to me I'd be driving and not remember how I even got to the store. I would be working and I couldn't even focus on the project. So I finally, after going back to work one day, I had to go ahead and talk to my boss to say I'm either going to have to take some time off or you're just going to. I'm going to have to grant myself grace and slow down my project. And I had that really good discussion.

Cathy:

Here's where your that question number one what are those one to three people? They know you, they know what you need and, if you're continuing to talk to them, they know that you are better at doing something in processing or taking some time to yourself in processing. Number six is how can I ensure accountability and support in this tough season? In tough season, you need someone else to hold you accountable, because it's too hard to do it for yourself. And what I mean is if you don't address the stress, if you don't go ahead and I say you texted your or called your, your friend and said I can't take this anymore, I can't continue to go ahead and do the night shift and the day shift all by myself. I just can't. And then two days later you said well, I'm over it, I'm fine. Now you need to have that accountability person or that support to say no, kathy, it's going to come back again. You need to start figuring it out and it's just going to eventually wear and tear on you.

Cathy:

So that's why a good caregiver coach helps you with a plan and checks in with you daily or weekly. Obviously I'm a caregiver coach. You could use that. A therapist can help you with a plan that is really helping you with your mindset and and a plan for the week to write out ways I can be open to help, for example, or my thoughts and feelings about this. I had to do this when I was working with a therapist because I was not open to help and I needed help, and so I had to write. I had to do assignments to go ahead and break my mind shift, but a friend can work as well. As long as you're working through these questions. Ask them if you can check in with them and say I want to make sure I'm going to eat healthy and rest this week and this is my plan, and I need to have an accountability and a support person to help me through this and then help me recognize if that's impacting my stress in a positive way and my mood in a positive way.

Cathy:

Number seven and we're at the last one here now is what do I want to remember about this tough season? What have I learned about this tough season? This one is really focused in on supporting your future self and moving you into a better caregiver self. I call this the Empowerful Caregiver and you're moving into season three, where you're able to handle stressors and challenges with a better mindset, with better experience, with better positivity. And we know tough seasons are never going to end and we know that there's going to be ups and downs and there's going to be hard seasons ahead. But what do you want to remember about the tough season that you went through? What do you want to remember as far as the good, the bad, the ugly, the successful? What have you learned? And so the biggest thing for you to do and I would highly suggest you do is write notes about what you did. What was your first reaction, what did you move into, and really document this, because when you're in the next tough season. You can look back at it and if you see patterns of you getting emotional or angry or arguing or whatever, you can recognize that and work on that. Or saying I'm going to turn it off faster or I'm going to shift faster or oh again, I remember this because I wasn't sleeping well or I wasn't eating well and that impacted the way I handled the stress and overwhelm. Keep this for the next time.

Cathy:

One of the things I told myself and wrote is I know my actions and reactions. Now I wrote down those actions and reactions. I'm aware of what I think and do. I sometimes cut out the people in my life. When things are stressful, I put my head down and ignore everybody else and I hide, almost hide. I also know that I can't control a lot of things and but I can control how I react and take care of myself, and so one of the very first things I do which I did yesterday, which was Sunday at the time of this recording is I reached out right away when I got the bad news or when Dennis was having his problems. I reached out. I've learned. It's okay to slow down and process it and it's okay to learn or lean on my friends.

Cathy:

At first I was feeling guilty. I only lean on them when I'm going through bad times, and that's not true because I'm leaning on them in bad times, but they should be leaning on me when they're in bad times as well, and we should check in with other when things are good as well. I've also learned in those caregiver good seasons and this is what you have to think about too you can fill your cup. You can give your body excessive fuel, whether that be walking and eating healthy or socializing with your friends or doing something you enjoy. You're filling your cup in those good seasons so that you can be capable of going through the tough seasons, because you've built yourself back up. It's almost like okay, yeah, this is a tough season, the storm is coming, so I'm going to have to hunker down, but in the good seasons I'll open up the windows and we'll go ahead and let in the light. And in those good seasons also, I'm developing strategies for the tough seasons. I'm becoming more prepared in those tough seasons.

Cathy:

Maybe you're looking ahead and being more open to help, now that we've looked at all the importance to pausing and processing your situation and how to move forward by asking these seven really, really important questions. I think you need to keep these in your pocket, you need to go ahead and do these, and I'm going to have these in the show notes, I'm going to have these in my blog, and the biggest piece of the puzzle is finding someone to help you work through these seven questions. And it's really it's as a friend. It's really nice to be able to say I have five, I have seven questions that I have to ask myself when I'm overwhelmed, when I'm too stressed out, when I'm ready to throw in the towel. And will you be my person? Will you be my person and then set realistic expectations for them? Tell them, I want you to be a good listener. I want you to go ahead and ask me questions, but you cannot protect me, you cannot solve the questions and you cannot solve my situations.

Cathy:

If you don't find that right person or if you're not working with that right person or anybody, and you're just thinking I can just do this solo, my friend, it's not going to work. You're going to continue to spin those thoughts. Your mind is this magical, powerful tool that's going to talk you out of it and saying Kathy, just stop it. You were just too emotional yesterday, hormonal, and that's not going to work. No, your person that you're going to work with identifies it, you confirm it.

Cathy:

And if you don't find that person and you think you're going to do it solo, you're going to continue to have stress, you're going to continue to have panic, you're going to let that stress get to you physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually. It's going to wear and tear on you and, like June Carter had said in her documentary, caregivers usually don't supersede or is it supersede? Especially addict caregivers usually don't live longer than the addict, and it just blows my mind and in those things. So you need to find the support and look for outlets that can help you live a healthier and happier caregiver life. I'm here for you If you need a coach, but also reach out to your, your friends, reach out to another caregiver, reach out to a therapist, whatever works best for you.

Cathy:

I promise you, my friend, you will learn more from this tough season with these five questions and it will shape you into a better person. When you do the work and ask yourself these questions with a person, with a coach, with a group, you're going to go ahead and make make headway on it. So here's to going ahead and working through our hard seasons by going ahead and practicing this today. So I hope you found this beneficial today. I sure did, because I think that I needed a reminder of the seven questions. I'm stopping, I'm pausing, I'm talking to a friend, but I needed the reminder to go ahead and have some structure when I'm working through stress, because you know what your mind's not there You're, you're reactive and you need to go ahead and do that. So thank you again for listening to the caregiver podcast. If you like this episode, can you do me a favor? Give me a review, share it with another caregiver that helps us help other caregivers, and we're in this all together. Have a great rest of the day, my friend, and bye for now.

Navigating Caregiver Stress and Overwhelm
Navigating Stress and Caregiving Challenges
Identifying and Addressing Stressors
Managing Stress as a Caregiver
Navigating Caregiving Stress and Support