The Caregiver Cup Podcast

Conquer Your Negative Thoughts: Find Your Secret Sauce and Caregiver Joy

April 23, 2024 Cathy VandenHeuvel Episode 210
Conquer Your Negative Thoughts: Find Your Secret Sauce and Caregiver Joy
The Caregiver Cup Podcast
More Info
The Caregiver Cup Podcast
Conquer Your Negative Thoughts: Find Your Secret Sauce and Caregiver Joy
Apr 23, 2024 Episode 210
Cathy VandenHeuvel

Send Cathy a text:)

It's time to dive into today's episode, and boy, do we have a juicy topic to explore! Picture this: You, yes YOU, uncovering your very own recipe for caregiver joy and kicking those negative thoughts to the curb. Doesn't that sound like music to your ears?

Join us as we embark on this journey of self-discovery, where we'll unravel the secrets to conquering those pesky negative vibes that can steal your sunshine as a caregiver. Trust me, it's all about finding your groove and embracing what works best for YOU.

So grab your favorite mug of coffee, cozy up, and let's dive right in! We're about to unlock the door to your caregiver joy, one secret sauce at a time. Get ready for an adventure like no other!


Support the Show.

Thank you for listening. If you know of another caregiver who could benefit from this podcast, please copy and share this episode.

Follow me by clicking on the links below:

The Caregiver Cup Podcast
Help us continue making great content for caregiver listeners everywhere.
Starting at $3/month
Support
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send Cathy a text:)

It's time to dive into today's episode, and boy, do we have a juicy topic to explore! Picture this: You, yes YOU, uncovering your very own recipe for caregiver joy and kicking those negative thoughts to the curb. Doesn't that sound like music to your ears?

Join us as we embark on this journey of self-discovery, where we'll unravel the secrets to conquering those pesky negative vibes that can steal your sunshine as a caregiver. Trust me, it's all about finding your groove and embracing what works best for YOU.

So grab your favorite mug of coffee, cozy up, and let's dive right in! We're about to unlock the door to your caregiver joy, one secret sauce at a time. Get ready for an adventure like no other!


Support the Show.

Thank you for listening. If you know of another caregiver who could benefit from this podcast, please copy and share this episode.

Follow me by clicking on the links below:

Speaker 1:

Well, hello, my friend, and welcome to another episode of the Caregiver Cup podcast. It's Kathy here. Thank you for listening. Today. I want to jump into the big question I get as a caregiver coach, and I wish I had this golden answer. What am I talking about? It's about finding your own secret sauce to conquering those pesky negative thoughts that steal your energy and joy and keep you from being your best caregiver self. People always ask me how did you do it, kathy, or how are you doing it, or what can I do to go ahead and overcome whatever their negative thoughts and emotions are. But I want you to picture this your very own toolbox of joy-boosting hacks, just like a heart-to-heart chat with a friend or a quick journaling session or a power walk in the sunshine. It's all about what works for you to get beyond that negative thought, that negative mood, that exhaustion that you have, whatever it is. So let's dive into this episode today and explore and embrace what gives you caregiver joy and try to help you find your secret sauce. Unfortunately, there is no one size that fits all solution or the scientific formula Gosh. If we could figure it out together, we would be rich, we would be living in our dream home we would be solving this big problem. But there isn't. I always think about it. What if there was this lab draw that we could do that would say okay, this is your secret sauce to going ahead and overcoming your mindset issues or your negative thoughts, and you get a printout telling you what to do. Wouldn't that be wonderful? But there isn't one. But since we can't find that, we have to rely on our body and mind to send us signals and recognize those signs and signals and triggers that they're telling us. And if we can train ourselves to recognize those, then we can go ahead and start figuring out and experimenting on those.

Speaker 1:

Think about when you feel really, really good. Let's do the positive side first, even great if you're having a great day or you're saying, okay, this past week has been really good for me. Have you ever stopped and asked yourself why do you feel the way you're feeling? When we're feeling good? We usually don't, but think about it. When you're feeling good and you're having a good day, I want you to stop a minute and say what have I been doing? Like eating, what's my nutrition? Like what's my sleep? Like what's my self-care, like what's happening? What is my life right now, ask yourself these questions. What is making it a great day for me? Why am I feeling joy and happiness?

Speaker 1:

Because what you want to do is try to dig and figure out what that is we usually don't stop and celebrate and, most importantly, taking a mental check of what's working. Because this bad spiraling spot we start questioning and we start getting frustrated or angry or whatever it is, and it just spirals downward. First of all, I want to tell you, as a human being, as a caregiver, it is normal to go ahead and do that. Our body and brains just work that day. What I want for you today is to think about what is your secret sauce or your go-to habits that you're going to have in this imaginary toolkit that you can pull out. On those hard days, these challenging situations or a bad season of caregiving, or even in your overall life, you want to be able to say okay, I'm going to have to go back to the basics, or I'm going to have to go to this because this has worked in the past.

Speaker 1:

In order to get there, though, you have to start with exploring and experimenting and, most importantly, make not of what works best for you, and what I'm trying to get at here is recognize what's not working for you and making a mental note of this. A really generic example would be I have lots of food allergies and I love pizza. I just love pizza. But I know my body reacts both physically and mentally to it, and so when I'm having these really emotional days or my energy is lost, I ask myself what did I eat? Did I have that pizza? Did I have that allergic food? That is now causing me issues and I usually can trace it back to something like that in some instances. It's different for all of us and really it's a lifelong practice for you to continue to assess where you're at. I will give you some examples here of this. One is a pre-caregiving situation.

Speaker 1:

When I was in my late 40s, I started to run and started finding a passion for running, and I run like a turtle, I jog. But I found this I no longer had kids at home, I didn't have a lot of kid commitments anymore, and so I discovered and started exploring my health and fitness, and I discovered that running was a way for me to process my thoughts, think through things, and what happened is I couldn't be on the phone or computer, I couldn't get distracted with projects or work, I couldn't throw in a load of wash and do dishes and all that kind of stuff and it allowed me to just do one thing during that time. This season helped me on my focus. It helped me on my nutrition, because in order to run long distance, you had to feel your body right, and it helped me with my overall well-being. And, like I said, my kids were out of the house and this was a season of my life where it was pretty normal and quiet, with the exception of the everyday work issues worrying about your children, that kind of thing. But it was a pretty normal season for me and so I embraced that time and I could remember running when I was most angry about a deadline that was just given to me and I couldn't do it. And I'm like if I only had those problems now they don't seem like they're big problems anymore but I would run my best because I would get angry and could go ahead and vent out my angry and then, by the end of my run, I had a game plan in place. Well, that lasted for a pretty good long time.

Speaker 1:

Then, all of a sudden, in 2017 was when I became that sudden caregiver. When my dad and my spouse, two weeks apart, were diagnosed with stage four cancers, I learned that running wasn't feasible anymore due to my schedule, challenges and exhaustion. I tried it but I just didn't have the stamina and the energy and the time to do it. I had to explore what would work for me now and I was shocked, looking back now, that I took a 360 or maybe it's called a 180, but I completely flipped and I found that intense workouts and I even tried like HIIT workouts and stuff like that Intense workouts weren't working for me. They were after I went to an integrated care specialist and had my adrenal glands and all of my overall checks. I was taxing my adrenal glands and I was in definitely in adrenal gland trauma and my nervous system was shot, and so I tried. But she suggested I start looking at low impact, quieter physical activity and movement and I started slowly doing a little bit of weight training but I started loving more like meditation and yoga and then I did a lot more journaling to go ahead and slow myself down and appreciate the quiet time. My integrative care doctor also. I did some blood work and looked at what I was lacking as far as like what vitamins I was lacking in my nutrition, and iron and all that kind of stuff, and through my nutrition and supplementation I was starting to go ahead and fuel my body in the right way. But I had to go ahead and shift and this process took me months to go ahead and figure out. I started slowly implementing things and trying to find my new go-to habits and secret sauce to go ahead and keep myself mentally and physically grounded.

Speaker 1:

Now fast forward into my caregiving journey a bit more and I discovered that even with those newer habits, these nasty negative thoughts would come and they almost remind me of a fly or a pesky mosquito and you can't. They just keep coming. And until you actually get rid of the fly or the negative thought, it's always going to be swarming around, even in the sleep. Don't you hate when you're trying to go to sleep and you can hear the fly or the mosquito and you think it's on your body and you're flipping around and turning on the lights and trying to find it. You can't. Oh, I'm just, I'm going off into this Kathy mood here. But negative thoughts, until you actually take care of those, you can sweep them underneath the rug, but they're always going to come back. These days would turn into days where it would affect me physically, or it would affect me mentally, like moodiness and frustration and not myself or fatigue, or I would have gut issues. Whatever it would be, those negative thoughts would just keep churning and churning in my mind and in my body.

Speaker 1:

I learned I had to take a step back again and ask myself what's going on Kathy? What's going on Kathy? I would go through the past few days and assess, and I would assess my nutrition, my sleep, my workload, my challenges, my routine. I would have to go ahead and then I usually could pinpoint my gaps and there was always for me a tie to one of those that would fuel the negative thoughts. Negative thoughts are normal. Our body I mean our mind wants to bring in negative thoughts. Usually it's an 80 20 thing in a in our minds that we're usually. We're usually thinking negative thoughts 80% of the time and 20% is our positive. And for me, I'm always trying to move the dial and make it more of a 50-50 for me and trying to train my brain.

Speaker 1:

I learned that I had to go for a drive or sit on the patio or find quiet space to process what is going on and it wasn't a two-minute check. I had to allow myself at least 30 minutes and I would have to go ahead and find it. And for me, I had to get away from whatever I was doing. I couldn't process things sitting in my office because I would almost feel obligated to check my computer or do something else while I was processing, and for me I needed total elimination of distractions. What I would do and it was usually on the patio with my favorite beverage or just sitting quietly I would usually hold my heart and I would take in some breaths, first of all telling my body and my mind to be open, to relax and allow myself to go ahead and ask myself those hard questions.

Speaker 1:

I would also have a journal, because journaling helped me slow down my thoughts and really think through them. And when I would write down, you know I was feeling frustrated, I was mad at my mom or you know, and I would have to ask myself why and how and when and really get into it Now. For you, it could look like me back in my running days, or you might go for a walk and a talk with a friend, but finding what you can do to assess the bad day, the bad thoughts, the frustration that you're feeling. Instead of sweeping it underneath the rug, you need to go ahead and figure it out. Then, after I assessed and found my answers or had it all written down, I could then explore new ways through it and go back to what I stopped doing. What I'm trying to say is I could explore the new ways, or I would discover that I wasn't going for a walk, I wasn't doing my meditation. Oh, I know now that I wasn't eating breakfast for the last three days. I was just grabbing and going, whatever it would be In one of my hardest seasons.

Speaker 1:

I couldn't figure it out. I just could not release and I'll be totally blunt and honest with you my resentment. I could not release it. I scheduled therapy because of the anxiety and panic attacks. That's why this week, I'm doing a free webinar on conquering resentment. So if you're listening to this in real time, one of the webinars start today, I have another one tomorrow and I have another one on Thursday. So go to kathielvancom forward, slash peace, and you can go ahead and enroll in them. If you're listening to this later, you know, go to my email, go to my Instagram and inquire about it, and I can always send you a recording of it.

Speaker 1:

Other seasons, I realized I was isolating myself. This is one of my darkest times. I isolated myself because I was so disappointed in what I looked like. I was gaining weight, my face was broken out, I was losing hair and this was such a hard season for me and I realized I wasn't taking good care of myself. And by just keeping on this spiral, if I didn't start taking a step out, if I didn't start doing something, I would go ahead and do that. Through the grace of God or the stars aligned, I got the courage and just took a step forward and it was taking baby steps.

Speaker 1:

Now I'm not saying habits will solve everything or your go-to, this imaginary toolkit of things that you could try. It's not going to solve everything, but it will keep you grounded. And you can't control your loved one's condition or the disease that they have or everyone around you, but you can control yourself and you can control what you can control, and that's you, when you focus on you and recognize when things are off, like your energy or you have a lot more negative thoughts, or you are just stressed and overwhelmed. Those are just a few. It's your body signals and it's telling you it's time to pause and take a look and assess what's going on. It does that. Your body is just this magical place and if you don't stop and assess, eventually your body's going to get sick or you're going to go ahead and mentally crumble. You have to stop. Eventually it's going to make you stop. But what's really cool about it is if you can go ahead and recognize and train your brain to go ahead and assess. Maybe it's just assessing each and every day.

Speaker 1:

I have a new journal now that I bought from Jenna Kutcher and I just buy journals and this happens to be like a new journal and the very first question every day is how are you really? And it rates from a scale of one to 10 what you need to go ahead and rate yourself at. Today I rated myself a seven, I rated myself a seven, and so definitely I know that I'm not great, but I know that I'm not bad. I'm just in a good space and I consider like for me, six, sevens and eights. That's where I want to be, and so that might be something you can do. In the past I've also done and I've done, a podcast on this where rate yourself as a stop and go light. Are you a red for bad? Are you a yellow where something's off, or are you a green? Today, you know?

Speaker 1:

So find your little niche and you can ask yourself when you focus. And when you focus on and recognize it, you can then lead to. It can lead to going ahead and finding a healthier, happier, joyful you. Then you can take steps and actions to work on one thing at a time, because, miraculously, you can't just go ahead and, like you would go to a doctor and get a prescription and lower your blood pressure. Yeah, maybe you need to do that, but you can't go ahead and just flip the switch. It's going to take some time. So treat your tests, or one step at a time, like an experiment, like this week.

Speaker 1:

Think about if I discover that I'm struggling this week. I'm going to go to bed 15 minutes earlier because I feel exhausted. Maybe that's what I discovered, and I'm going to assess it after five days and see if things changed a little bit, because maybe it's that. Or I'm going to add greens to my meals for a week and assess it. It's so much easier for me and less stressful for me to add something to my diet than take away something, because I know that I need to eat healthier. Well, I'm going to add greens. Maybe I'm going to put I love spinach leaves on my hamburger, so I'm going to eat my hamburger, but I'm going to put some greens on my hamburger. Or I'm going to go ahead and buy some broccoli and carrots and so I'm going to add some color to my diet, whatever it would be. Think about what you can do. Or I know I've been not getting out enough and I miss my friends and I discovered that. So I'm going to call a friend and see if we can't schedule a walk and talk once a week, and if one, maybe I have numerous friends, maybe I rotate and do a walk and talk. I'm going to get, I'm going to boost my energy with the exercise and I'm going to go ahead and improve my friend or my mood by talking to my bestie. Yeah, so to kind of conclude today, there's so much in this episode.

Speaker 1:

As we wrap up today's episode, let me leave you with my nuggets of wisdom today. First of all, there's no one size fits all solution oh my gosh, we wish there was when it comes to conquering those pesky negative thoughts that can suck the joy out of you of caregiving and rob you of your energy and all that kind of stuff. You have to figure it out. Wouldn't it be amazing if we could just get a cheat sheet with all the answers? But at last, life doesn't work that way. It's a journey, it's a process of trial and error.

Speaker 1:

So take a moment to breathe and reflect and ask yourself what are your tried and true habits, your little nuggets of joy that help you really soldier through those tough days? It's about experimenting, exploring and figuring out what works best for you. Remember, it's okay to switch things up as life throws you curveballs, and you probably will have to If your loved one ends up in the hospital. Well, your routine's going to change. So what can you do? Just like my journey from intense workouts to embracing walks and meditation and journaling. It's about finding your groove in each season of caregiving.

Speaker 1:

So let's treat this like an adventure. Take baby steps and make tweaks here and there and see what sticks. I love using the analogy throw spaghetti on the wall and see what sticks, whether it's catching a few Z's and going to sleep earlier, or changing your sleep routine, or adding some greens to your plate, or penciling in regular walks with a friend. Every little action counts and, most importantly, go easy on yourself. You're doing the best you can and your quest for joy and caregiver joy is truly worth it. So until next time, my friend, keep exploring, keep experimenting and really embrace what fits your heart and your joy. Embrace and don't get discouraged when those negative emotions come up or negative thoughts come up. Think of them as a gift. They're telling you something and you have the ability to go ahead and try new things. Something and you have the ability to go ahead and try new things. So take care, my friend and I will catch you in next week's episode. Bye for now.

Exploring Your Caregiver Secret Sauce
Caring for Yourself
Journey Towards Joyful Caregiving