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4 Spring-Inspired Stress Relievers for Caregivers

This is a sponsored post for Vive Health. I have been compensated for sharing it with you. All opinions remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.

Don’t worry, this post isn’t an ambiguous guide to caregiver stress relief with vague tips like “Try not to stress so much.” Caregivers know that fighting stress and anxiety is key to maintaining mental and physical health – so you can stay in tip-top shape to take care of your loved one. It’s easier said than done, however. Get inspired with these 4 real-world, practical ideas that can truly get your spring off to a bright and stress-free start:

Soak Up Smells: The fragrant plants and flowers which accompany spring remind us of how calming and relaxing a wonderful scent can be. Aromatherapy can play a key role as a stress reliever for you and your loved one as pleasing scents have been shown to stimulate areas of the brain associated with emotion.

Whether it’s a new scent diffuser or simply a strong candle with a scent you love, filling your home with therapeutic olfactory gratification is a great way to permeate your environment with peace and calm. Scents like lavender, lemon grass, cinnamon, jasmine, and eucalyptus have been shown to improve mood, boost focus and productivity, as well as help alleviate headaches and fight fatigue.

Color: Coloring, really? Absolutely! Coloring has become widely popular in the past few years for adults and seniors – why? Because it is a proven stress-reliever that helps you focus your thoughts and actions in a creative and productive way. Caregiving can be so full of unknowns, unexpected turns in events or sudden changes in the condition of your loved one. Fifteen minutes of coloring while your child sleeps, for example, gives you the opportunity to tap into your artistic brain, focus on pleasing images and colors, and think only about sticking inside the lines and creating something beautiful.

Save Money: Simply put, a constant stress for many caregivers is money. Medicine, treatments, equipment – they all cost money. Not to mention giving up your own job or source of income to stay home and provide full-time care for your loved one. Spring opens the window to a handful of money-making opportunities to help put cash back in your pocket.

  • Garage or yard sale – Join your community or neighborhood yard sale this spring to get rid of gently used items you no longer use or need and give your bank account a little boost. Or, if that takes too much time and work, consider selling more high-dollar items you’re willing to get rid of online on the Facebook marketplace, eBay or Craigslist.

  • Pet-sitting – If you’re able to, pet-sitting for someone while they are on vacation (either housing the pet or walking to a neighbor’s to feed/walk their pet) can be a good way to make $20 – $40 a day.

  • Light gardening – Assisting a neighbor in need with light gardening like planting flowers at the walk or watering plants while they’re on vacation can be a quick and easy way to make money during spring and summer too.

Spring Clean: Decluttering and tackling a whole spring cleaning venture can seem overwhelming, whether you’re caring for someone 24/7 or not. For caregivers, however, spring cleaning can be a time of productive and even anxiety-reducing activity. Clutter, be it objects, furniture, or simply piles of bills and mail on the kitchen counter, can serve as representations of your own stress and feelings you have trouble letting go of – guilt, disappointment, sadness. Ridding the environment (you spend so much time in caring for your loved one) of clutter can be a rejuvenating first step to alleviating chronic stress.

Large medical equipment, stocks of supplies, hospital beds, wheelchairs . . . all of these items can take up quite a bit of room and you certainly can’t get rid of them. So what type of clutter can you manage to lose? Think small, manageable pieces. Perhaps a large dresser that doesn’t get much use can be given away and clothes stored more efficiently in hanging organizers or shelves in the closet? Can those piles of papers, bills, and mail be sorted through and filed as needed? One top spring cleaning reminder – don’t overdo it. Use helpful tools like your reacher grabber to pick up smaller objects in hard to reach places, and arm-length rubber gloves to protect your hands and skin from harsh cleaning chemicals, dirt, and germs.

No matter where you find stress-relief this spring, soak it in, rinse and repeat. If a 15-minute walk in the sun does the trick, keep it up and try scheduling that break in every day. If coloring helps you find calm before bed each night, stock up on coloring books and colored pencils. Football legend Ralph Marston once said, “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” Nothing is truer to that statement than finding even the smallest activity or thing that helps you de-stress.

What do you do to relax and fight stress? Leave a comment below!

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ObamaCare vs. Affordable Care Act

ObamaCare vs. Affordable Care Act

There has been a lot of discussion in the news lately about repealing and replacing Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act has also come up a lot in those discussions. Unfortunately, it’s not always clear during the discussions that these are the exact same law. It’s important to raise awareness of this issue, especially among people who don’t frequently follow politics or news “inside the beltway.” The main reason is the Affordable Care Act, hereafter referred to as ACA, is known for a lot of things people like while “Obamacare” tends to be associated with all the things people don’t.

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Before I Had My Son, I Wish I Had Known…

The biggest surprise for me after having my son was how much control other people wanted over decisions involving him. This came up quickly as he struggled with gaining enough weight from the day he came home from the hospital. Family members wanted to attend doctor’s appointments. Everyone seemed to have an opinion on how we could fix the problem. Some of them were insistent we created the problem ourselves by not following their “expert” advice. None of this was true of course. He was eventually diagnosed with Noonan’s Syndrome which is known to cause all sorts of growth difficulties and not just poor weight gain.

Looking back, if I had known going into it others would be so pushy and insistent to the point of blaming I would have more resistant about having outside involvement in our son’s health concerns. Though, I’m not sure that would have even helped long-term. After all, they probably would’ve tried to exert their influence in other ways if they hadn’t been using all of their energy they way they did. I recommend first-time parents set boundaries early and often. It’s your child. Don’t let anyone else tell you how to raise them.

What do you wish someone had told you before you began having children?

PTSD Symptoms and Support Organizations

After airing my podcast reading of a previous post about PTSD I was asked to gather and provide more information about PTSD symptoms and support organizations. I’ve thought long and hard about how best to cover this information. After all, people who are suffering from PTSD need professional help. Self-diagnosis isn’t reliable and it’s difficult to comprehensively describe any medical issue, much less a mental health issue, on a website with such a broad international audience. The approach I’ve decided upon is to aggregate the information as concisely as possible. I strongly advise anyone who believes they might have PTSD to seek the assistance of a therapist who has experience treating someone with PTSD.

If you are in need of immediate assistance call 911 or go to an emergency room. This post is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical care.

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Finding Resources

Having a child with medical or other special needs can be overwhelming and expensive. Not knowing where to find resources is a common reason children and parents don’t get the support they require. I wish I could transfer everything I’ve learned over the past few years to you. My book is a great resource, but even it doesn’t cover everything exhaustively. Trying to address every challenge all in one place would have made it so vast and unwieldy it would’ve been unreadable.

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I’m Still Here

I apologize profusely for the silence. It’s not like me, and I’m disappointed in myself for letting it occur. I became overwhelmed approximately the end of November, and I’m only now getting my feet back under me. Again, I’m sorry.

A lot of things have happened in a month. I’ll stick to the highlights and keep this brief. Our son is beginning to do what most people would consider eating. He’s getting more confidence every day in his ability to keep food in his mouth and swallow it safely. A lot of us take it for granted – it’s never been a given for him.

We thought we would need to go in for a heart catheterization. The interventional cardiologist recommended against it because of the risk due to his bleeding concerns, and he wasn’t certain he would find any more relevant data than we already have. There is something concerning going on with our son’s heart, enlargement of one of the chambers, and there’s no apparent cause. So far he shows no visible signs of heart difficulty.

I haven’t forgotten you, and I hope to begin writing on a weekly basis again soon. Thanks for staying with me.

Podcast – PTSD in Special Needs Parents

 

Available for subscription on iTunes.

Available in written format on our website.

Podcast – Introduction

 

Available for subscription on iTunes.

Available for download on Gumroad as an MP3.

Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy

Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy

There is a lot of misunderstanding out there about Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP) including what it is and what it’s not. It’s a tough topic and an important one to understand with the government being more involved in our lives and parenting decisions than ever before. Accusations – true or false – have the capacity to break up families and destroy relationships.

MSbP is a condition where a caregiver makes their charge sick to gain some reward. The reward may be attention, sympathy, validation, or anything else the caregiver receives in return for their patient being ill. Typically, the relationship involved is that between a parent and child. MSbP is considered to be abuse. Harm undeniably comes to the recipient of the abuse and cases of death have been reported.

This syndrome is not poor parenting. Disagreeing with medical professionals or getting a second opinion does not indicate MSbP. Those things can undeniably place a child at risk when taken to the extreme, but a label of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy is inappropriate. The words we use matter.

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There is Skilled Labor in the Medical Mom Community

There is a large untapped labor pool that – if someone can figure out how to access it – would provide a significant amount of skilled labor to the marketplace. This set of people has a broad range of skills from software development to professional writing. Some individuals in this mysterious category excel at art, music, or storytelling. The one thing they have in common – a child with a medical condition whose care would cost more than they could earn working.

I recommend employers take a look at this community of people and sincerely evaluate whether or not they can put them to work. They will be part-time employees unless paid more than childcare costs for their child’s unique needs. Some of them may need to make enough, even part time, to replace what they get through state assistance in addition to funding their childcare needs. It won’t be easy or straightforward – but it’ll be worth it.

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