Managing Your Mind with Caregiver Stress – Part 2

…and a chronic condition

In last week’s blog, I talked about managing your mind when dealing with caregiver stress. One strategy is to recognize negative thought patterns. Then, build the skills of creating thoughts that are more positive and help you achieve the results you want.

So, let’s talk more about how to manage your mind. As a reminder, our thoughts lead to our feelings. Our feelings lead to our actions which then create our results. (To learn more about the connection between thoughts and results, listen to this podcast by Brooke Castillo, Founder of The Life Coach School.)

Well-being and living as well as possible are the interaction and balance of many areas of wellness. These include our physical, mental, social, spiritual, and financial health. We can have negative thoughts or emotions in any of those areas that block us from creating the change we want. So, let’s take each area of well-being and see how negative thoughts may be creating negative results. Pay close attention to how your thoughts make you feel. Then, think about what kind of action your feelings inspire, for good or bad. Your actions will lead to your current results.

Example 1: Physical Health

Maybe you have recently been diagnosed with a major illness. Before the diagnosis, you never exercised much. So, your thought might be:

Thought: My doctor told me I need to start exercising but I don’t like exercise and I don’t know how.

Feeling: I feel overwhelmed and hopeless.

Action: I attempt to exercise, but give up after a few tries.

Results: I don’t create a regular exercise plan. My inaction or lack of change keeps me feeling overwhelmed.

How can you change your feelings from overwhelm and hopelessness to motivation instead? What thought can you come up with that helps you to feel motivated to exercise?

Thought: Exercise can help manage my symptoms and will help me to stay mobile and be active with my grandkids.

Feeling: I feel motivated to exercise because I see how it can help me do the things I want to do.

Action: I make an appointment with someone who can show me how to exercise. I also ask a friend to begin walking with me.

Results: I learn to exercise in a way that fits my needs and interests. I take an active role in managing my disease.

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Example 2: Mental health

If you are a caregiver, you may have the following thought sometimes:

Thought: I am angry that no one appreciates the work I do every day.

Feeling: I feel angry and unappreciated.

Actions: I am impatient with others and yell more than I intend.

Results: I stay angry.

What thought can you create that helps you feel better and be the caregiver you want to be? One example might be:

Thought: The work I do as a caregiver is important and I do it well most days.

Feeling: This makes me feel like what I am doing has purpose and value.

Actions: I am more patient with those I interact with.

Results: I grow in my ability to be a good caregiver.

Example 3: Social Health

Did you lose a friendship when you became a caregiver?

Thought: My friend hasn’t bothered to call or check on me.

Feeling: I am hurt and resentful.

Action: I don’t reach out to her.

Result: A friendship ends.

Friendships often change when one person is dealing with a crisis. Sometimes that friendship doesn’t survive. But, living with hurt and resentment is not good for you. Can you come up with a thought that helps you to find peace instead?

Thought: Even though this friendship didn’t turn out as I wanted, it doesn’t mean that I am unworthy of friendship. It may mean this wasn’t the right friendship for me at this time.

Feelings: I feel acceptance as I let this friendship go.

Action: I choose to nurture other relationships or activities that support me during this time.

Result: I strengthen other relationships where possible.

Example 4: Spiritual Health

Are you struggling to find peace with physical suffering? For example, perhaps you are thinking:

Thought: My body is the enemy.

Feeling: I feel like I am under attack and cannot control anything.

Action: I deny or resist what is happening to me.

Results: My suffering continues.

A new thought could be:

Thought: I am more than what my physical body can do at this moment.

Feeling: I feel appreciation for my whole self and what I offer beyond my physical abilities.

Action: I focus my efforts on areas of my life where I have more control and ability.

Result: My total well-being improves as I focus on areas of wellness other than my physical health.

Example 5: Financial Health

Are you struggling with expenses that come with managing a chronic illness?

Thought: I can’t afford all these new expenses, there isn’t enough money.

Feelings: I feel defeated and hopeless.

Actions: I don’t make any changes to our spending.

Result: Our financial situation worsens.

What thought can you create that will help you to address this problem better?

Thought: It is possible I can find one way to not spend money today.

Feeling: I feel capable that I can be part of the solution with our finances.

Actions: I actively seek ways each day to not spend money. And I spend time thinking about how to re-order the priorities of how we spend our money.

Results: My changes help us spend less money. I feel more financially secure.

Two final thoughts

Author Mathew Kelly says, “Our lives change when our habits change.” So, your life can change when you create the habit of a new way of thinking. But habits take time and practice. So repeat your new thought(s) to yourself often. And practice until you see the results you want.

Finally, if the new thought is not believable to you, then you won’t succeed. For example, if you want to lose 50 pounds, but you don’t really believe you can, you won’t succeed at your goal. Consider starting with a more believable thought like, “I can lose 10 pounds.” Start creating change in the direction you want. Over time, small change can build up to something quite big.

If you need help identifying negative thought patterns or creating the results you want, consider wellness coaching. Learn more here.

Disclaimer: This blog is a resource through which you may obtain information regarding your health and wellness.  Information is intended for the general reader and is not a substitute for medical advice.  The content in this blog is intended to be informational only and not interpreted as specific advice for you.  There may be delays, omissions, or inaccuracies in information contained in this blog. You should always consult with a licensed healthcare professional who is familiar with your health and past medical history before making any changes you may read about in this blog.

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