I have never been a fan of the end-of-year retrospectives or resolutions for the New Year, and this year is no different.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy looking back, it’s that I would much rather look forward. Forward is where the possibilities lie. While New Year’s Eve has always held a twinge of sadness for me, New Year’s Day feels like a new beginning.
As a caregiver, I have always been more reactive to the needs of others than planning for myself. But 2022 will be different and will bring a twinge of excitement to my trepidation.
Considering I’ve never been a writer of goals for the year and I will not start now, but I will take some baby steps. Allow myself to dream. That idea seems more manageable for me. Somehow softer and less daunting.
For those who are continuing to care, I hope you continue forward with kindness and support for yourself. As caregivers, we lose track of the one person we need to support the most, ourselves. Our own wishes, hopes, dreams, and even caring for ourselves get pushed lower down on our own list the longer we care for someone else. As much as the term “self-care” makes me want to scream, it is vital to the caregiver. We can care for ourselves while caring for others in ways that don’t involve trips or manicures.
Shifting the self-care mindset can be helpful. Asking, “what do I need today for ME.” Something as simple as finding something that brings you joy every day. Whether it is rediscovering a hobby or passion you have lost track of or simply listening to music that brings you joy every day. Even unfollowing or deactivating social media accounts if they make you anxious or angry. That goes for people too. If you have people in your life that seem to agitate you, limit your exposure to them. Chose yourself. Deep breathing is also a simple and very helpful technique that can help decrease cortisol in your system, lower your blood pressure, improves immune system, and much more.
For those of you who are trying to find your way after caregiving, I see you. Navigating the world without your person in it can sometimes feel like a new and frightening terrain. Everything is different. It’s the loss of everything that you did every day. Your routine, your experiences, your purpose, and that is an enormous loss on top of your personal loss.
The one thing I’ve learned through all of my interactions is this, be compassionate with yourself. Follow your instinct. It’s there for a reason. Know that you are enough, just as you are, and that you matter. Start there, the rest will follow. Happy New Year.