Why is it some family caregivers make it all look easy, or at least not impossible, and others struggle every step of the way? Effective caregivers share several good habits. Here they are.
- They reframe negative thoughts. All caregivers get tired and stressed from time to time, but highly effective caregivers know how to reframe a situation and find the good – any good. Reframing is the ability to tell yourself a different story than the negative one playing in your head. Upset that you shoulder all of the responsibility and your siblings don’t help out? Reframe those thoughts. Highly effective caregivers, rather than dwell on the unfairness of the situation, decide to be grateful that they have strength to handle so much responsibility.
- They accept good enough. The most important thing about a job well done is that it’s done. Highly effective caregivers know that. They have a lot to do and they don’t let perfect stand in the way of good.
- They prioritize life over laundry. Caregivers move mountains to care for the people in their lives. They deal with illness and end of life. They know what matters most, and it’s not the laundry or the housework. Happy caregivers know that as long as they have clean set of underwear, they can focus on what’s truly important.
- They say yes to what matters most. Speaking of what’s truly important, highly effective caregivers have figured out what matters most to them. They make time for their top priorities and know everything else is optional.
- They ask for help when they need it. Effective caregivers accept they cannot do everything. They believe asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. They have a support system – friends, family, social workers, doctors, a helpful peer at work, and they rely on them when they need to.
- They accept their role. Few people set out to become family caregivers – they have other plans for their lives. But happy, effective caregivers accept their role instead of resisting it. They let go of what they planned, and focus on what they have.
- They practice self-care. And finally, the most effective caregivers prioritize self-care despite the many obstacles they face in putting themselves first. Maybe it’s a daily workout, or simply a 5-minute meditation. They know they can’t help anyone else if they don’t first help themselves.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point you to the inspiration for this post, Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.