Caregivers: Do You Need to Slow Down?

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Do you ever have a day off that you think is going to be well-balanced and manageable only to get to the afternoon and realize you haven’t eaten, you’re having a hard time holding back tears, and you just want the day to end?

Bad days happen, especially for caregivers. 

When you’re caregiving for an aging parent or an ill partner or child, or you’re just spread too thin with all of your responsibilities, your expectations can be painfully out of whack when you get some open time in your schedule. 

If a free day (or hour!) presents itself, the tendency can be to overschedule to catch up on a bunch of tasks or appointments that you never get to on your to do list. 

Unfortunately, this often backfires leaving you exhausted, unfocused, hangry, and anxious

What is it like to think about getting off the hamster wheel for a minute?

Does your guilt start to creep in and get louder and louder until you give in to what you think you SHOULD do for everyone else?  Do you even remember what it’s like to slow down?

Slowing down can be challenging, scary, and filled with self-criticism.

For women who are overwhelmed with responsibilities, taking even an hour to slow down and do something you enjoy can be challenging.  Lunch with a friend, a walk, or a mani/pedi can feel rushed and guilt ridden if you don’t buy into the idea that you need it. Slowing down can be scary if you focus on what happens if all the balls you’re juggling begin to fall. 

And what about that voice in your head that tells you you’re needy or selfish for taking time to yourself? 

In the moment, we convince ourselves these are all good reasons to avoid paying attention to our own needs.  The problem is, it’s not sustainable.  The balls start to fall, your own emotional and physical health may suffer, or you’ll continue doing 1000 things, but none of them well.

How do you know if you need to set aside time to slow down?

  • Your to-do list just keeps getting longer and longer and everything on it is for someone else

  • You’re exhausted and not sleeping well because of everything you have to do

  • You’re irritable and cranky and never seem to sit down and relax

  • You miss out on spending time with people you love and enjoy because you’re too busy

  • You’re afraid if you slow down everything will fall apart

  • You think you should be able to do it all

Need some ideas for self-care when you're in a hurry, watch for my next blog, Caregivers: Top 10 Quick Ways to Slow Down and Take Care of Yourself.  If you ready to get off the hamster wheel and figure out how to take care of yourself AND everything you have on your plate, contact me for a free phone consultation, 678-827-2111.

Karen Whitehead, MS. LCSW

Karen Whitehead, MS, LCSW specializes in helping overwhelmed and anxious adults and caregivers with stress, cancer or chronic illness reduce anxiety, sleep better, and enjoy life. Serving Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Cumming, Dunwoody and greater Atlanta.