Caregivers who don’t partake in journaling, should consider incorporating it into their routine. Writing isn’t something that everyone finds enjoyment in, but through the informality of journaling, a caregiver can use it as an ideal outlet for inspiration, organizing thoughts, and navigating feelings.
“Journaling helps you to remember how strong you truly are within yourself.” – Asad Meah
Caregiver stress is common, and it’s not always avoidable given the ever changing circumstances when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Managing caregiver stress will combat burnout and fatigue to ensure that the care is not only providing enough for the loved one, but also not taking too much of a toll on the caregiver.
When taking care of someone else, it is not uncommon for many to lack in taking care of themselves.
How a caregiver can start journaling
Make it fun – get a visually appealing notebook and a pen that writes nice and smooth. You can even store it on your computer or smartphone notes as well if you prefer to do it electronically.
The main preface to journaling is that there are no rules. Stream of conscious writing, or simply writing anything that comes to mind, is the main objective. Feelings, thoughts, dreams, stories, poems, whatever it is you feel like putting to paper.
Don’t worry over spelling and grammar either. This writing is for you, not to appease or pass the requirements of anyone else.
Full sentences aren’t required. Neither are a lot of them. If you feel like only writing down maybe a few words that day, that’s sufficient.
The key benefits a caregiver can feel from journaling
1. Stress reduction
Stress is caused by a mix of worry and other emotions. By writing about frustrations, anger, and fear, you’re allowing yourself to vent. By putting these feelings into a journal, a phenomena called affect labeling takes place.
Once you have an outlet to release these feelings, you will find the weight off your shoulders. Keeping feelings bottled up for too long is not good for anyone and can only add more to the already present level of stress and anxiety.
2. Improve not just happiness, but overall health
A study published by Cambridge University uncovered that even just 20 minutes of journaling over 3 or 4 days, led to an increase in immune function.
The addition of writing into a daily routine as a stress reliever has been shown to reduce the likelihood of getting sick, visiting the doctor, better sleep patterns, and even decreased blood pressure.
3. Problem solving tactic
When the challenges from caregiving are stacking higher and higher, it can be easy to feel so overwhelmed that a caregiver is unsure of what direction to go. Knowing how to organize thoughts as they come and sift through priority level is a lot easier to do once recorded on paper.
If you simply note what’s going on in a situation, you may be able to find a solution sooner rather than later, because you’ll have a clearer mind.
4. Organizing your time and caregiving routine
When you notice patterns of behavior in a loved one, recording these will help shape your care routine for them. Adjustments can be made from things such as knowing what foods they always have an appetite for, or noticing what makes them agitated.
With writing out a schedule and taking daily notes, you’ll notice patterns you may never have had time to fully focus on before.
5. Conflict resolution
For those who have a tendency to speak without fully thinking about what they want to say, journaling is a great tool. Journaling is also a safe place to let emotions out and find a better outcome than going directly into an argument.
Writing about fights and other conflicts may also help a caregiver understand and emphasize the other party, and point to a better way of resolving it.
Prompts to help a caregiver start journaling
Sometimes, words come naturally. Other times, they may not. Writer’s block happens to even some of the best authors. For the caregiver simply wondering what would be a great springboard for their next journal session, we’ve provided these helpful prompts:
- What three good things did today bring?
- Is there anything you’d like to improve on? How do you plan on achieving this goal?
- What is an adjustment you’d like to make to the morning or evening routine?
- Write a list of ten things that always make you happy.
- Is there a new skill you hope to learn someday? If so, how will you go about starting the learning process?
- Write about a difficult day. What happened, what helped you through it, or what will you do to prevent this from happening again?
- Are you taking enough time for self-care? If not, what changes can be made in order to provide a slice of time for this?
As you can see, the start can seem daunting, but I’m sure many caregivers have an answer to most of those prompts.
At The Kensington White Plains, we promise to love and care for your family as we do our own. Our staff and care team works to provide the best care for our residents, and caregivers should remember to do the same for themselves.
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