So, we have figured out what social workers do, we’ve looked at the mental health the cancer patient is experiencing. Now, it’s your turn … the caretaker. You have a huge responsibility. You give your heart, soul and time to caring for someone you love. This might become your full-time job or you might be balancing it with your “real” full-time job. If that’s the case, you are working two jobs. Whew!
If you’re like me, you’re tired at the end of your usual day. You get up, you go to work, you put in your best efforts. At the end of the day, you come home pretty weary. Suppose, then, that you just come home to this second job … the one where you are taking care of your loved one with cancer.
What’s required of you? How do you tackle the difficult and sometimes overwhelming needs of that other person AND of yourself? Well, a lot of how you’ll be able to do that depends on what your mindset is and how you cope with tough experiences.
First, I’ll ask you to consider similar questions that I asked last month of the person with cancer:
- What’s your attitude about life? Are you an upside or a downside person?
- Do you easily become anxious and worry a lot?
- Do you tend to be “reactive” to others?
- What’s your ability to deal with fear?
- Are you good at reaching out for help OR do you tend to want to do everything yourself?
A friend of mine is currently completing a book about care-giving. This is something she said to me recently:
“Care-giving is always physically arduous, yet the physicality of it is quickly forgotten.”
In other words, in your efforts to take care of your loved one, it takes a physical toll on your body, BUT, that is often pushed aside in the “doing” of what needs to be done. But, here’s my warning, or shall I say, my invitation to you:
“Take care of yourself, so you CAN take care of others.” Period. You must be very conscious of how to handle your self-care or you will burn out in the process of caring for someone else.
So, here are some points to consider:
- Help your loved one develop a great mindset for dealing with their cancer. Their ability to accept and deal effectively will have a positive impact on your ability to care for them. Feel free to go here and download a free little booklet on Developing a great MINDSET: http://cancer-360.com/
- Make sure you ask your friends and family to help you.
- Be really good to yourself—arrange for days off (as in away from your loved one) so you can have some fun and some sense of a “real” life.”
- Keep yourself in shape, breathe, take yoga, walk, etc. In other words, take care of you.
- Have a therapist or a coach or someone who can really personally help you cope – someone you can talk it all out with.
- Keep your own “gratefulness journal”
- Find ways to laugh and have fun.
I know you can do this. It might be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done … but you will be able to do it. Your family will love you for it and so will the person you are care-taking. Most importantly, it will be an opportunity to show the intensity of love you have for that special person. You will be grateful for that experience.