A Caregiver’s Guide to Building A Daily Self Care Plan…

When cancer drops into your family…. EVERYONE starts talking about daily self care. 

Update: When cancer explodes into your family, the stress is unbelievable. Finding a way to keep fighting when you’re exhausted is one of the hardest parts.  You can do this, no matter how crazy things get… 

Take Back Your Life From Cancer is a journal created to help you find hope, perspective and the motivation you’ll need to stay strong so you keep fighting for the long haul… 

 You can get Take Back Your Life From Cancer here for free…

It makes sense, self care is the lifeline that keeps you going and gives you the ability to manage all of the things that are being thrown at you day after day.  The only way you can possibly help someone else get through all of this craziness is by taking care of yourself.

What no one tells you… Is how to actually find the time and the energy to focus on the things you need to do for you.

It probably feels like what you need always get sidelined by the chaos, that cancer throws your way. 

Well, not anymore. 

Here are the 5 easy steps to get you started making daily self care a priority, every single week. 

Step #1:  Keep It Simple

The real reason people fail when making resolutions is because they try to make HUGE changes all at once. 

I could be the poster child for that concept. 

I’m more of a “knock it out of the park” type person than a baby step kind of girl.  So, when I decided to start a daily routine, I basically packed my day full of things I wanted to get done which meant, I really didn’t get anything done.

By starting small, with one or two slight changes added to my day, I not only make a huge impact in whatever area I’m trying to address, but I also get an easy win that makes me feel more productive.

So naturally, I keep doing it.  Because it makes me FEEL like I’ve accomplished something despite this completely overwhelming situation.

Starting small is the only way to make consistent changes that you’ll stick to beyond a week or two. 

Step #2:  Figure Out The Most Important Things

When we first started our journey, I was completely overwhelmed by everything.  Things that normally weren’t a problem, became huge stressors that had to be figured out.

Things I needed to do like…

  • How to get the laundry done (cancer doesn’t care if you have a clean shirt).
  • Remembering to pay bills.
  • Getting dinner on the table every night (because eating out costs a fortune)

Then there were the things I wanted to do like…

  • Spend time with my family.
  • Take a bubble bath.
  • Watch Hallmark movies (and get lost in someone else’s problems for a while).
  • Find time for exercise.
  • Meet my friends for dinner.
  • Write all of this out.
  • Get lost in a great book.

Step #3:  Make a List

Start by making a list of all of the things you want/need to get done but can’t figure out how.

Grab a piece of paper and make three columns.

  1. Struggling With:  These arethe things that have to get done.  Things you need to figure out or get under control.
  2. Want to Do:  The things you desperately want to do but haven’t been able to fit into an already packed schedule.
  3. Sanity:  These are the things that will help you stay sane in the craziness of this situation.  The stress relief, the time away from this, the time with your kids, pets, family, friends.

Write down every single thing you can think of for each of these areas.  Be honest and grab another piece of paper if you’re a hot mess like me!  🙂

Step #4:  Stick to Ideas You’ll Actually Have Time For

You know things are going to be crazy, hectic and unexpected when you’re dealing with cancer. 

I may not be able to spend 4 hours catching up with my friend Lori, but could I meet her for coffee for an hour? 

I’ve had 2 people meet me at the doctor’s office so we could chat while we were waiting and then afterwards we all grabbed lunch (my dad included)…

Was it the exact same as hours of conversation over drinks?  Nope, but it helped tremendously!

It was an awesome way to drop my stress level, maintain those connections and get everything I needed to, done

Another example is exercise.  Scheduling 2 hours at the gym everyday is probably not going to work out the way you want it to. 

But could you plan a half an hour walk around the neighborhood, or a 30 minute Yoga Video on YouTube?  Could you start doing some of the exercises on Nerd Fitness for 20 minutes a day, or take the dog for a walk in the park and accomplish two things at once?

Sometimes you just have to improvise. 

Step #5:  Take Action

  1. Look at your list.  Are there things you could manage to fit into your schedule if you planned them upfront?  Maybe even a little outside the box?
  2. Choose 1 idea from each column. Choose something that you think will be manageable, something that will fit in to an already packed schedule. 
  3. Grab your planner (or however you look at your schedule for the week).
  4. Figure out how you can fit each of those 3 things into next week?
  5. Map out any actions steps.  Ex.  Getting the laundry under control… might look like.
  6. Start a load of laundry on the express wash first thing in the morning. 
  7. Switch to the dryer before I leave for the day (or my husband can when he gets home).
  8. Fold (or sort into baskets for each family member) before bed.
  9.  Have a back up plan.  If all hell breaks loose on Monday, try again on TuesdayThis is not about perfection, this is about doing what you can to make this week just a little bit easier than last week.   

Adding a few small changes at a time, rather than trying to tackle everything all at once will give you a much better chance of success and a greater impact on the overwhelm.  Self care is about making your life easier and less stressful. 

Let’s get started.

Ideas For Daily Self Care

If you’re not sure what to incorporate into your daily self care plan, here are a few ideas to get you started….

Exercise 

Don’t try to cram 5 days at the gym into an already packed workout.  There are a ton of options to stay fit that you can do in a few minutes a day.  You can use free workout videos on YouTube, use a program like Aaptiv which allows you to workout anywhere and anytime, or get started with one of these 7-minute workouts.

Meal Planning

Half the battle of being a caregiver, is being ahead of the game as much as possible.  By knowing what I’m making and having all the ingredients in the house, I know my husband and the kids are covered even if the week takes a dive and I end up running all over the place.  You can find instructions for quick and easy meal planning here…

Grocery Shopping Online

Once you meal plan, you have to get the groceries inside the house.  If you don’t do this part, then the plan doesn’t matter because you’ll end up ordering out (and spending a fortune) because it’s easier.  Ordering online (even if you pick it up, means that you can get everything you need in the house and save a TON of money and time.

Cleaning

Cancer doesn’t care if your husband doesn’t have a clean shirt for work, or if you have pots and pans so you can cook dinner.  Don’t worry, we struggled through the same issues and we found a few tricks to get them under control.  

Reading

Kindle and Audiobooks make this easy.  You can read right on your phone in the waiting room or listen to Audiobook in the car.

Family Time

This is a MUST.  You need non-cancer related time to spend time with the people you love and have a little fun and relaxation in the process.  Don’t forget to schedule this in as much as possible.

Coffee With Friends

Maybe set up a monthly date for an hour or two to catch up!

Relax

Take a bubble bath, or a hot shower.Do nothing.  Put on your pajamas and just chill.

Deep Breathing

This helps a lot more that you would think, especially when things are going insane.  Start with a few of these to get started…  

Music 

Blast some music and sing at the top of your lungs.

Mediation

You would not believe how much this can make a difference to your mental state.  You can try this one for free on YouTube.  It feels a little weird at first, so give it a few tries before you decide it’s not for you.

Journaling

Writing this stuff out is a great way to get some of this stuff off your chest.You wouldn’t believe the difference from even a page a day.  You can grab our FREE journal Take Back Your Life From Cancer to get started here…

Prayer

Carving out time to pray every morning is a great way to start the day.  If you’re not sure what to say, you can start here…

Talk To Someone

Again, getting this stuff off your chest helps tremendously.  

Art

Creative expression is an incredible way to release stress and it’s cheaper than therapy!  🙂

Healthy Eating

This is a big one for a lot of people.  Starting to move towards healthier meal choices makes you feel better and gives you an extra boost of energy.

Get Away For The Night 

Getting away from everything even just for a night is a great way to “take a break” from this whole situation.  

Snuggle With Your Pets 

Ready to feel calmer, happier and just a little more hope?  Trust me, your pets can do that for you.

Dance 

Throw on some music and release some stress and energy while getting a workout at the same time. 

Building a daily self care plan and incorporating just a few of these into your schedule will help you feel more in control and reduce the stress of this whole situation. 

What’s your favorite way to practice daily self care?

P.S.  How do you keep fighting when you’re exhausted and devastated?  You clear your mind, get some of this stress out of your system and focus on what’s important.  

Take Back Your Life From Cancer is a journal created to help you find hope, perspective and the motivation you’ll need to keep fighting in the midst of the storm. And the best part, it’s free. 

You can grab Take Back Your Life From Cancer here for free…

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