With the new year just on the horizon, now is an excellent time to think about new strategies that will help you be a more effective caregiver for an older adult family member and also provide benefits to your loved one. Journaling is an effective way to reduce caregiver stress, and can be utilized as an outlet to problem-solve and keep a record of caregiving-related tasks. Furthermore, the benefits of daily journaling include:
- Making you healthier. Writing about difficult emotions and situations for as little as 20 minutes each day for three to four days weekly has been shown to enhance immune system functioning, lower blood pressure, improve sleep, enhance mobility for those with osteoarthritis, and a lot more.
- Improving your caregiving skills. Reading back over what you’ve written at the conclusion of every week enables you to pick up on any patterns, triggers that upset your loved one, certain times of day that are better or worse for the older adult, etc. You can then make a plan to proactively manage these issues before they become problems.
- Helping you understand yourself better. Caregiving usually requires so much of your time and attention, it is possible to lose sight of who you are and what is important to you as an individual. Journaling helps bring your own feelings, thoughts, and emotions to the surface.
- Helping you to understand others better. Along those lines, describing disagreements and misunderstandings in your journal makes it possible to see things more clearly from the other person’s viewpoint, and provide wisdom into how to manage (and steer clear of) disputes.
Much like implementing any other new routine, it will take a while to get comfortable with the idea of journaling and to make it a priority. The key is to put aside specific time every day in a quiet, private place, and to tell yourself that it’s ok to write about anything and everything that comes to mind.
One useful approach for journaling is to utilize a “stream of consciousness” approach – not putting a whole lot of thought into what you are going to write and exactly how to write it, but simply to start writing and to keep writing continuously – whether or not it’s relevant to your caregiving duties or not. Remember, your writing won’t be seen by other people (unless you choose to share it), or graded. Ignore perfect grammar, spelling and punctuation, and just let your feelings flow out onto the paper.
If finding time and energy to devote to journaling is a struggle, contact Abby Senior Care any time. We are always available to provide regular, ongoing respite care services which allow family caregivers the time they need for themselves. Let us partner with you to ensure your loved one receives the highest possible quality of care, while you achieve the healthy life balance you need and deserve.