The Tools of the Trade – While this may sound simplistic, it is and it’s not. The first thing, and the most important in my humble opinion, is to bless yourself with the right tools for journaling. Take a trip to your favorite bookstore and buy yourself a special notebook, diary or journal, and buy yourself a pen that has some meaning or feeling behind it, as well. Maybe something with an inspirational saying.
It could be your favorite color or have a design with your favorite affirmation on it. Whatever it is that makes you happy and feel joyful – that is the right tool for the job. Take your time in picking out your journal and pen. The way you feel when you hold your pen and take out your journal is an important connection.
It does not matter whether you go to a craft fair, a chain store or a mom and pop store to buy your special tools, just make sure that it is done in the spirit of buying yourself a gift – one that will make a difference for you and for your elder.
The Right Space – Next take a moment to find a special place to store your pen and journal. If you are honest, you will admit that like most folks, you have snatched a pen or two in your day (have you ever noticed how bank pens are attached to a chain?). Well, you don’t have to go that far, but it is important to let yourself and others know that your pen and journal are not only special, but they are precious to you.
The Perfect Place – Once you have your precious journal and pen, and the right space to keep them when not in use, think about the perfect place where you can go to jot down your thoughts – no matter how positive or negative.
There may be a window seat in your living room or a favorite old chair by your fireplace or you may even like to reacquaint yourself with your journal and pen every night for a few minutes before going to sleep. Studies suggest that writing down your thoughts before you sleep, whether they are resolved or not, helps you to sleep better and may even help you gain some clarity on them in the morning.
The Most Important Tool of All: Your Integrity – Now you might be thinking, “What does integrity have to do with journaling?” That’s a great question. When you have integrity, you honor your word and are a consistent human being, for most scenarios.
When it comes to journaling it is vital that you give yourself your word that you will journal on a regularly scheduled basis – for example, three times per week for 15 minutes. Of course, it is important to journal when the mood strikes you or when you have an emotion that is bigger than you with no apparent solution in sight. Of course, it is perfectly acceptable to journal more as opposed to journaling less. You want to, at the very least, keep to your regularly scheduled journal promise.
It’s often been said that God helps those who help themselves. This much is true when it comes to having a resilient mind. It’s up to you to enhance the gift of a beautiful mind and to regenerate and renew that gift.
The Business of Busyness – We all take the business of busyness quite seriously. We all work, have family, career, school – the list is never-ending. Expanding on the idea of integrity, look to see where in your life you can find fifteen minutes per day, three times per week. Could it be on your lunch break? Or perhaps in the morning. Can you give up fifteen minutes of sleep per night (where you are probably be tossing and turning anyhow – unable to drift off peacefully)? If you want to be the best caregiver that you can, make a commitment to that cause.
Here’s the most helpful tip I can offer you. Make the commitment, and put it down in writing. Ever notice when you need to get something done to completion, you put it down on a “to-do” list? What about the things you WANT to get done – where are those? Exactly! The “need to get done” items somehow manage to get crossed off your to-do list. The “want” to do things never seem to do.
Schedule your wants as well as your needs. Put it down in writing:
- On your calendar
- On your to-do list
- Set a reminder on your cell phone
- Use an app
Caregiving is a job in and of itself – don’t let anybody else tell you differently. Don’t allow it to become a chore – choose to have it show up as more joyful for yourself and for your elder.