Tuesday, May 5, 2015

LEAD: Self-Development

Caregivers of all eras say they miss their personal time to learn and remain sharp and inquisitive.  How do you find the time to keep growing intellectually, when caregiving is your priority?

A path of life-long learning keeps you sharper and more engaged, though caregivers often feel too weary or too constrained to begin.  First, know that you are learning each day as you walk this caregiver journey, and the skills you nurture along the way will eventually be clear and valuable to you when you look back.

As you consider one day at a time, begin a mind-shift to seek those small pockets of time that might be possible for you. There are some powerful “time-suckers” in each day, but if you can find even 15 minutes you devote to yourself, you will feel empowered.  Feel guilty?  Try not to, as small bits of respite time improve your caregiving.  There’s a good reason that on an airplane, the flight attendant tells you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others. Yes, there are times this is impossible, but if you make the choice to find that small pocket of time, you won’t be as drained.  Hope is an energizer.

Reading quietly may challenge, but try turning your drive times into a mobile leadership class with an audio book.  That waiting time at the VA?  Listen to 15 minutes of good content or about a topic you care about. Turn your otherwise “wasted time” into a learning university.  You can download audio books free from the public library and listen to 15 minutes of meditation, your topic of interest, leadership or inspirational messages.

Leadership expert, Jim Rohn says that if you spend more time working on yourself than your job (caregiving), that the rest of your life is altered positively by what you've learned.  As you become involved in learning new things, you are also more inclined to talk about them and move outside your personal shell or bubble.  Sharing those thoughts with others spurs engagement and may inspire them to think differently too.  Sharing your new knowledge or perspective is reinforced by voicing it to someone else.  It's growth!

Think of yourself as a hermit crab who lives in a shell that fits his size.  Isn't it time you grew in learning new ways to think, vary your viewpoint, and learn empowering, positive skills - in your spare moments?  Be the hermit crab that grows to need a larger shell and grow during every phase of your life!

Linda Kreter & 
VeteranCaregiver Team

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