Tuesday, 03 April 2018 08:00

Caregiving: writing for respite

Caregiving for a loved one is a full-time commitment. This reality is nothing new, but sometimes, it may seem completely all-consuming and you may find yourself feeling completely overwhelmed or ‘stuck’. This is a natural feeling and will most likely happen more than once along your caregiving journey.

As a full-time caregiver you have every right to feel the emotions that come with committing all your time to caring for someone else. Just some of these may include frustration, anger, resentment, pity, sadness, desperation and more. It doesn’t make you a bad person for feeling these emotions, it is merely part of the journey.

With this in mind, if you’re looking for a form of escape that doesn’t include physical time away from a care receiver, mountains of money and long hours of travel – writing for respite could be your answer.

A form of escape: writing for respite

Journaling your thoughts and emotions can serve as a fantastic form of relief. This task allows you to truly open up, pour out your feelings and even let go of negative energy you may be holding onto. A great way to journal your emotions and find new vigour for the future is by dividing your journaling into three separate sections:

Journal One: Venting

In this journal, pour out your feelings about your life, your daily experiences and current situation. Don’t hold back your emotions, express and recognise your frustration, anger, resentment or sadness. Divide this journal into sections where you can separate your thoughts and ideas and deal with them all individually, helping you to process your emotions properly.

Create sections which are dedicated to:

  1. Emotions and venting
  2. Your caregiving routine and what you would like to change
  3. Remembering your past: who were you before you became a full-time caregiver?
  4. Focus on the future: write down things you want to do, hobbies you want to start etc.
  5. Dream on dreamer: write down your future goals or aspirations – it’s heathy to express your goals and have something to look forward to.

Journal Two: Brainstorming

In this journal, take the time to reconcile your emotions and your future plans with the reality of your situation. Divide this journal into two sections:

1. Options for alternative respite care: in reality, what are the options you have for finding alternative care for your loved one?

Use this part of your journal as a place to go to when you are feeling overwhelmed, overly tired or stressed. Here you can add to your list of options, helping you to feel more positive about the future.

2. Find your way back to yourself: use this second section of your journal to realistically brainstorm ideas on finding out who you are and what you enjoy all over again. Brainstorm ideas about hobbies, places of travel, things you want to do / achieve.

Journal Three: Remembering Gratitude and Forgiveness

Focusing on the good in your life and all you have to be grateful for may be truly difficult some days. It may even seem clichéd to you, but make this journal a place where you can go to lift your own spirits.

1. Express your gratitude: use this section of your journal to remind yourself of your daily             blessings. These may include your health, your mobility, your home, a loving family etc.

2. Forgive yourself: many caregivers deal with feelings of guilt, day in and day out. Use this part of your journal to acknowledge these feelings and use positive affirmations to forgive yourself for whatever it is you’re feeling guilty about. This process can be extremely therapeutic.

Even if you aren’t a fan of writing, start small, even one sentence a day can go a long way to changing up your mind set. From there, you can move on to a paragraph, then a page a day and slowly begin to feel a positive change. Being self-aware and admitting your feelings to yourself could be the springboard to the change you really need!

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    Surrey, United Kingdom
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