With New Year’s around the corner,  it seems that everyone is evaluating the past year and hopefully making plans for a new one.  Many people, both old and young are looking for a fresh start. Even though the majority of people who make New Year’s Resolutions don’t always stick to them, I am still hopeful that we can learn from the past and make the upcoming year even better!

Like most caregivers, (whether you are a mom caring for your own children, an adult child caring for your aging parents or a licensed caregiver), this time of the year is the perfect tie of year for introspection. Like most caregivers, I always evaluate my “wins”, as well as my “losses” and strive to make a plan for a better year than the one that just passed. And like most care-givers, the care we give others, comes before the care we give ourselves. My resolutions usually include something like, “I will have more patience, I will wake early every day and exercise, or I will not let my exhaustion get in the way of my routine”, etc. But every year I find myself making the same promises or resolutions.

Although I know that the perfect caregiver, perfect mother, perfect daughter does not exist, I often feel defeated. My stress level leaves me feeling that I needed to do it better. But when you are tired and or stressed, it is so easy to get wrapped up in the negative feelings. My hope is that we can all take this time and remind ourselves that we are doing our personal best.

The New Year is a perfect time to take inventory of our own lives and see what improvements we can make. My hope is that we can look at the coming year with fresh eyes and positive thoughts to create the change we need, but also allow for the recognition we deserve, for ourselves and our efforts.

So if you plan to make a list of New Year’s resolutions, the first one needs to be permission to do your best, but the realization that you might only be able to make small progress. And even small progress is progress.

New Year’s Resolutions to Consider

  1. I give myself permission to do my best to follow my New Year’s resolutions or to keep them at all.
  2. When I feel a bit imperfect, I will remember that guilt is not an option as long as I know I did the best I could, given the circumstances.
  3. Make “alone” time for me, even though that might seem impossible right now. If I need to, I will ask for help from family and friends, and even sources outside my inner circle.
  4. Learn how to say NO, when I know I can’t add any more to my plate.
  5. Along with taking care of whomever, I will put my own health as a priority and schedule doctor, dentist and even eye appointments.
  6. I will treat myself to some downtime, so I can recharge my batteries and keep up my energy levels before I experience burnout or exhaustion.
  7. Sometimes caring for family, whether young or old can be overwhelming, I will seek out advice from professionals, organizations and even other fellow caregivers and see it as a sign of strength, not weakness.
  8. Just like the Flight Attendants remind you before every take-off, to put your own mask on first, so you can take care of others, I will remember that taking care of my own needs isn’t selfish.
  9. There are times when caretakers might feel alone and overwhelmed.  I will promise myself that if I begin to feel this way, I will get appropriate help for any mental health issues that arise.
  10. Nowadays, there is a lot of emphasis on alternative ways of caring for myself and others. In the New Year I will try to include massage, aromatherapy, meditation, exercise, eating a balanced diet and if necessary, meeting with a therapist.

This list is good a starting point, but I am sure there are other resolutions you might add for yourself?

Whether you adopt mine or create your own, make sure that you write it down, print it out and hang it in a prominent place, so that you can look at it every day and work toward these goals a little bit every day.

Remember, New Year’s resolutions or any change you decide to make for yourself, or your loved ones is not about perfection it is about happiness.  We all have room to make better choices, and a fresh year is a perfect time to create happiness for ourselves, as well as the ones we care for.

Wishing you a HAPPY New Year!