When people hear one of my speaking topics is Caregiving When You Just Don’t Care I get a number of tongue in cheek remarks, such as “Are you an example of not caring? Is that why you can speak about it?”
Truth be told, YES! We all get weary from things we do over and over and over again. Caregivers are no exception to this. There is no doubt family caregivers love the person we care for, but we’re human. Some days, the privilege of caring feels like a burden. Depression, feelings of burnout, or ongoing weariness may plague our days.
One of the first steps to caring again is to acknowledge the struggles and challenging emotions. We don’t have to live in them long-term, but it’s appropriate to recognize them. One way to do this is to name what we are feeling: anxiousness, exhaustion, boredom, lonely, underappreciated, etc. Naming them allows us to understand what we are dealing with and identify what will help us turn these thoughts around.
One way to allow oneself to feel these for a time is to set a timer. Whether it be for a full day, a fifteen-minute break, or other period. This lets one identify and grieve with the feelings, and then surrender them to God (maybe again and again and again) and begin to reestablish our care.
Two Scripture passages are helpful in this surrendering of our thoughts.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.?4?The weapons we fight with?are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power?to demolish strongholds.?5?We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God,?and we take captive every thought to make it obedient?to Christ.
Those words paint a clear picture that surrender of our thoughts is active. They won’t go away simply by hoping they do, ignoring them, taking a break or getting extra sleep (though those last two are helpful). We must purposefully take what we feel to Christ and ask him to rule and reign in our caregiving thoughts.
After surrendering those thoughts, it’s time to replace them. When unsure what to replace them with, Philippians 4:8 is a good start.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
New thought patterns may begin with a simple prayer of “Thank you for sunshine today.” Or “Wow, look at the interesting cloud formations.” As we begin with the seemingly obvious or general types of true, pure, and lovely thoughts, we’ll find ourselves looking for and acknowledging excellent and praiseworthy things.
I have to admit, some days, or weeks are easier than others to do this. But I’ve always found God’s word to be accurate, and powerful as I destroy, take captive and then refocus my thinking on the Philippians 4:8 thoughts.
What about you? Have you tried this? We’d love to hear your experiences, please feel free to share. Stay tuned for upcoming blogs that will offer additional tips for restoring our care while caregiving.