In June, we celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day and give thanks for all who have battled and continue to battle this life-altering condition. A diagnosis potentially changes many areas of life, both for the individual diagnosed and the loved ones who provide support. As a caregiver for multiple family members who have received this diagnosis, I would like to provide some tips for those who are in this role and navigating turbulent waters while remaining mindful of the need for wellness and sanity.
Have some quiet time in the morning before the day gets busy. Read something that provides hope and inspiration, and prioritize your day, knowing that it very well may not go as planned. Note urgent tasks that must be accomplished and if necessary, allow yourself to move lower priorities to another day. Rigidity in scheduling can be self-sabotaging to your mental health. Remember that caregiving requires an enormous amount of energy.
Start your day with good fuel for your body. We need a combination of protein, carbohydrates and fat to function properly. If you find that you lack sustained energy during the day, look at your nutrition. Also, make sure to hydrate properly; even slight dehydration will lower energy levels.
Schedule movement into your life each day, and if possible, get some time outside for rejuvenation. Have a friend hold you accountable for this; walking with a friend also meets social needs. Spending time outdoors is truly a wonderful therapy for body and mind.
Be as gentle and kind to yourself as you are toward the one for whom you are caring. Create awareness of your own needs by checking in with yourself during the day and asking, “On a scale of one to five, how am I doing?” Maintain an awareness of your own needs and commit to promptly tending to them.
Allow others to help. When someone offers to provide some respite, make a run to the grocery store or do errands, take them up on it! Making space in our lives for much-needed relief will refuel the spirit and mind as well as allow someone the opportunity to serve in a very special way – a win, win situation.
My heart goes out to all of the caregivers reading this article. In the caregiving role, it can be very challenging to manage physical and mental health. Always keep in the forefront of your mind that our ability to provide care runs parallel to our commitment to maintaining personal wellness, plugging in and recharging to empower! QCBN
By Lisa Fry
Lisa Fry is the Health and Fitness Director for Touchmark at The Ranch. Her responsibilities include overseeing the Touchmark Health & Fitness Club. Membership is open to anyone ages 50+ years. To reach Lisa or for more information, call 928-708-3133.