Caregiver Harbor Advice

How to Avoid Being Caught Up in the Trivial
Frank Blood

How to Avoid Being Caught Up in the Trivial

A well-known fact is that stress can cause serious emotional and physical harm. It is something everybody lives with; not just caregivers. Stress is one of those two-edged swords that cuts both ways. It is good when it moves us to productive action and bad when it prevents us from being the kind of person we want to be. Stress should not be a big problem for us if we regularly do some self-care like:

  • aerobic exercise
  • spending time with friends
  • meditation
  • doing a favorite hobby

We live in an age of positivity which is a good thing, as long as we aren’t using it to hide how we really feel when we become overwhelmed, often without knowing it.

One way we can minimize the negative effects of stress is to not let it accumulate for too long. Sometimes, the most difficult part is just being aware that we need a break. Instead of focusing on all the things we have to do and letting stress build while we stay distracted, we need to recognize it as soon as possible – we should be especially vigilant during the holidays.

Another way to deal with stress is to schedule everything we want or need to do. Why is this important? Looking at our week and days in black and white shows us what’s possible to accomplish and what isn’t. An honest appraisal of our own ability to get certain things done will go a long way in helping us to eliminate unnecessary jobs and free us to enjoy the things in life we like to do.


No one is immune

It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been providing care. Sometimes, we fall back into behavior patterns we thought we outgrew. I’ve recently noticed that I need to get back to some daily fundamental time management and organizing routines if I want to stay away from burnout; something I haven’t experienced in a long time. When I nearly lost my job many years ago, I felt like a complete failure. I swore I’d never allow myself to lose my focus at work or neglect quality care for my loved one again. Except for the occasional few bad days in a row that we all go through, I’ve been able to keep that promise to myself.

Yet, lately, I’ve seen a few of my old bad habits slip into my life again. Stress led me to worry and worry led me to rumination – which has been disturbing me over the past couple of months. Ruminating is like running on a guinea pig wheel; lots of work going nowhere. Much of how I saved my job and found my way out of burnout earlier had to do with scheduling just about everything I did. Boring? Definitely. But very effective in helping me to change.

As more things in my life needed to be done faster, I let the discipline of including everything on my weekly and daily schedules slide. I didn’t have time for it, I thought. My outlook on life and my attitude suffered. So, I turned to the some of the same basic scheduling tools I used to save my job. It has made all the difference.

Immediately I was forced to look at how many commitments each week I had made to others that weren’t a priority for me. I saw clearly what I needed to do to take back the control over my life that I had inadvertently given away merely because a friend asked me for a favor or I had fooled myself about an event’s importance. As a result, I’m now on a mission to declutter again. Decluttering isn’t a one-time event for me; it’s a process. I’ve relearned the word, “No.” And, I feel good about myself again. Try it for yourself and see if it doesn’t make your holiday a lot easier to manage.

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