Answer: One Resolution for Caregivers –52 Chances to Make It Work
Ahh the New Year is here – the hectic pace of the holidays is over, the frenzy over buying gifts and seeing friends and family is done (at least for another 12 months). You can finally breathe. That is, unless you are one of the 65 million Americans who are caring for a loved one – that moment to put the world on “pause” and get a break never seems to happen.
When it comes to caring for an older parent, a chronically ill spouse or a child with special needs, we know that caregivers are at risk for adopting bad habits such as smoking or drinking, for not getting enough sleep, for not having the time to eat or exercise right and for not taking enough time to focus on themselves – whether it is a coffee date with a friend, a pedicure, a movie or other things that can bring a smile to our face.
This is why my wish for all caregivers this year is to make a promise to yourself that you can keep. Make it simple. Make it just about you. Here are some tips on how to get there:
3 Steps to Keep That Promise to Yourself
1. First of all, you need to have an actual plan. If you just have a desire to improve something, it is not enough. You will be more successful at achieving your goal if you have steps on how to get there. For instance, it is not about losing weight – it is about the changes you will take to reach that goal. Breaking a big goal into small increments is a key part of your plan.
2. In addition, you need to track your progress. This instills a sense of mini accomplishments on the path to your goal. It helps to talk to someone who is invested in seeing you be successful. Having a friend or other support person who can be your “cheerleader” – celebrating your milestones towards the goal can help keep you going.
3. Lastly, be committed to your goal. Keep it simple (one resolution is better than two or three) and treat occasional “slips” as temporary setbacks on the path to reaching your goal. You have to commit to change. This is a marathon not a sprint. Be kind to yourself if you have a bad day that makes you reach for the chocolate. Remember the words of Scarlett O’Hara, “Tomorrow is another day.” Start fresh the next day after a lapse.
My Answer: Me Time MondaySM
I had the luck of meeting with a non-profit organization that I thought had a brilliant idea. It is called Healthy Monday – based on scientific research and the support of prestigious institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, Syracuse University and Columbia University, they have found that starting a new routine on a Monday will make you more successful at whatever you want to achieve. Essentially the premise is simple – just as the New Year is a time when we resolve to do something, every Monday is an opportunity to renew that promise to ourselves.
Healthy Monday says their research shows that most Americans feel Monday is the day for a fresh start. It is part of our cultural DNA – Monday is the start of the work week, the school week and we feel renewed energy to start something after a nice weekend respite.
For caregivers, I believe using the Monday point in time to remind you of “what have I done for me lately?” would make sense. Whether it is 5 minutes or 5 hours – it does not matter. Check in with yourself every Monday and take time for you.
I was thrilled when Healthy Monday created a specific Caregivers’ Monday campaign. They are part of a national movement to get our society focused on the value of family caregivers and the need to help caregivers stay healthy themselves.
Fifty-two weeks to reach your goal. Pick one thing that you would like to accomplish just for you this year. Check in with yourself every Monday. And, tell me what your “Me Time” tip is – I will include it in future videos and blogs. Good luck – 2012 is your year!
About Blog Author Sherri Snelling
Sherri Snelling, CEO and founder of the Caregiving Club, is a nationally recognized expert on America’s 65 million family caregivers with special emphasis on how to help caregivers balance “self care” while caring for a loved one. She is the former chairman of the National Alliance for Caregiving and is currently writing a book about celebrities who have been caregivers.