How are you doing?
Me, I haven’t been doing so well.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been experiencing a maelstrom of negative feelings: anxiety, anger, depression, generalized stress. I wondered what on earth was going on. Just six weeks ago, I’d been feeling more content and satisfied with life than ever. Overnight, it seemed, something had snuck into my brain and seeded negativity. But what was that something? What had turned my equanimity upside-down?
Believe me, I spent weeks examining the issue. Just this past weekend, I told my good friends, Tania and Sean, that I was struggling and couldn’t pinpoint the source of my mental pain. Was it my caregiving responsibilities? No. My caregiving ‘responsibilities’ remain so minimal right now that I feel only gratitude because I know they’ll grow in size and scope as the months march on. Mainly, I ‘take care’ of Mom by driving her to appointments and having lunch with her. Hardly arduous!
Was it my nurse job? Perhaps it wasn’t fulfilling enough? Well, the truth is I work with wonderful people in a great environment at hours that leave me plenty of time to pursue my other passions, such as writing. In fact, I have a cushy nurse job, and I know it.
Was it my writing career? When Dad came to live with us, I put my freelance career on (nearly) full stop. Now, trying to ramp it back up feels almost like starting from scratch. But I have this blog and Nourish the Caregiver, both of which I love to work on. And a few additional projects have begun trickling my way. Which should thrill me. Right?
This morning, I sent an email to a new friend and potential partner on an exciting new project, asking to postpone our scheduled teleconference. I felt I needed more time to clarify my personal and career goals before taking on something new. I felt sad as I sent that email because nothing energizes me like a new challenge.
But, to my surprise, as I hit the ‘send’ button, I immediately felt better. Lighter. Less overwhelmed.
I realized then the source of my discontent stemmed from simple overwhelm. Merely removing one item from my to-do list gave me the breathing room I need to focus on what’s important in my life right now: exercise, eating healthy, spending time with family and friends, re-plotting my freelance career, personal goal-setting.
This week, I encourage all my caregiver friends to review their priority lists and remove at least one item that can wait. You may think everything on your list needs to remain there (I know I did), but if you scrutinize the list carefully, you’ll find something that can be eliminated or postponed. Then, take a deep breath and DO IT. See if this small act doesn’t make you feel lighter, doesn’t lift your attitude, doesn’t reduce your feelings of overwhelm.
And then enjoy the week with a refreshed attitude. I know I will.