Updated: Oct 25
This year, winter in Chicago has been its authentic self. The cold and snow are what I remember trudging through on my way to and from school. I'm also reminded about how much winter in Chicago makes me want to hibernate.
When it's cold and snowy like it has been, I just want to hold up and do nothing. At the beginning of this season, I like to nestle in and spend time making soups and stews and baking. But as the winter wears on, I get tired of adjusting my life around something I can't control, so I just don't want to do much of anything.
As a family caregiver, I know that I can't lounge in bed all day, getting up only when I want something for myself. But over the years, I've learned to accept what I'm feeling so that I can make the best decisions possible for my mom and myself.
Embracing what I don't feel like doing helps me choose how I will do what I feel like doing. Though I can't stay in bed all day, I can quiet my thoughts in the morning before mom wakes up so that I can rest a little bit longer. I can consciously look for moments during the day when she's still so that I can have 15 to 20 minutes to be still. I can think about what I need from the basement so that I make fewer trips up and down the stairs.
Accepting that I have choices about when I will do what has to be done gives me time to recover from the busyness that caring for a loved one brings. Acceptance has been an incredible life lesson on my care journey. It has taught me that it's OK not to want to do something at a particular moment. And to give myself the grace to choose when I will do it.
Acceptance of my role as family caregiver keeps me focused on controlling the controllable: my own actions. So even though I can't completely hibernate. I can take actions that make me feel as though I have.
Be well until next time.
Dr. Sheri L. Yarbrough is an author, caregiver, and founder of Praxis Senior Care-Giving Solutions, a consulting business that provides care-givers with practical and easily implemented strategies that can be tailored to meet their individual care needs.
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