Caregiver, do you cringe at the thought of shorter days?
Stay with me before you break out in tears. You do not have to dread the cold and dark winter. As you go about winterizing your home, be mindful of yourself too. Here are simple suggestions to provide you with increased vigor and sanity for the upcoming months.
True stories of winter blues:
“I am so depressed during the winter. I don’t think I will make it through another one.” Anna told how every winter she got more than just the proverbial winter blues. Anna was clinically depressed every winter over the fact that she would be confined, to her home, while caregiving.
Shirley was trying to take care of herself after her third Cancer diagnosis. Her husband was frustrated by a 25 year old wife who could not go with him to his hobbies. He went anyway and left Shirley home alone to care for herself. She cried, “Some days the only thing I can do is get out bed. I don’t have the energy to get dressed or be around crowds of people. I wish my husband cared enough to stick around for me.”
Dominick felt the same way. “April through September are alright because I can get my wife out of the house some. It is November through March that I dread.”
Caregiver, do you feel the same way about winter?
If you are like most caregivers, extreme depression and anxiety might plague you at the end of each year. For more information on depression, click here.
Below are some simple tips for beating the blues:
1. Discuss your depression and stress with your doctor.
2. Have your emergency supplies on hand to help you feel accomplished and prepared.
3. Make yourself a care box.
Number three is the focus for winterizing today.
Caregiver, you can make yourself a box, with a collection of fun and inspiring items, to get you through the saddest days of the year. First, grab an empty container (or check with a local business for an empty box). Next, ask yourself, “What are some affordable items I could put in my box that would cheer me throughout the winter?”
What is your favorite candy bar, gum, or herbal tea? Do you have a particular fragrance of candle that uplifts you? Are there any books you want to read? Do you have a photo album that makes you smile?
Keep in mind:
As you are brain storming, remember that you are collecting items to encourage you when you are shut in. If looking at old photos actually causes you remorse, over the way life has turned out, then do not include those in your box.
Sights and smells are linked to memories. If something will trigger a depressing memory, do not put it in your box. The purpose of your box is to give you (the caregiver) something special. View this as little prizes that you will give yourself over the course of a few months.
As you are providing care for someone, you are making an investment. Protect your investment by maintaining your sanity.
Picture this time in your life as a marathon, not a sprint. You are aiming to stay in this race for the entire season. Runners have fuel stations and hydration stations on race courses. Likewise, you need refueling throughout the chaotic holidays and the ensuing after-holiday let down.
If you are wondering where you will find the finances to fill up a box with non-essential goodies, here are some ideas for you-
- Go on a scavenger hunt around your house. Look for things you may have forgotten or have not had a chance to use yet. Are there some gifts you were given years ago that you have been meaning to use or re-gift? Gift them to yourself. The cute notebook, household items, sporting equipment, DVDs, CDs, or other small items that you have forgotten are perfect to store for a rainy winter day.
- Check out your local thrift stores. I find books for only $.20 each at our Salvation Army. The purchase also goes to house and employee less fortunate people.
- Many stores, like Hobby Lobby, have entire sections of items for a dollar or less. Plus, Hobby Lobby always has a coupon online that you can print for 40% off a regularly priced item.
- Finally, when people ask you what you need/ want for your birthday or the holidays, do not just ask for something useful. So many caregivers have given up hope on having enjoyment. Caregivers can sometimes get into the mode of only looking out for their loved one. When asked what they want for Christmas, they usually mention something practical. There is nothing wrong with asking for necessary items for daily tasks, but consider throwing in an inexpensive, frivolous request as well.
What should you do if you cannot think of any tangible items that would cheer you up?
- Consider buying yourself some small gift cards to your favorite store or restaurant.
- Collect your loose change. Try tossing your coins or an occasional dollar into a jar. You would be surprised how quickly it adds up. Just before inclement weather, grab out your change and treat yourself.
- You may also consider rewarding yourself when the storm has passed. After the inclement weather, take yourself out to a movie or for donuts.
When I was raising a young child, I would stock up on board games and DVDs at and hide them in the closet until snow days. You can do the same thing for yourself which will give you something to look forward to during the days you are shut in. While you are collecting items for your loved one, keep your eyes open for goodies that would bring a smile to your face too.
One additional idea is something I did with a group of caregivers 11 years ago. When I was gifted with the same idea in January of this year, it reminded me how uplifting this technique can be. Get a small jar or box and fill it with your favorite quotes, scriptures, and jokes. Pull one out each day, or read several in the same day. An entire post about encouraging yourself and others is found by clicking here. For now, please keep commenting on the current posts and subscribe to our email list.
How about you?
Caregiver, it is your turn to share your ideas. What are some items you could store for yourself as you are winterizing your house?