There are many reasons that caregiving becomes an overpowering burden. The main reason is that as a caregiver, you feel an obligation to make certain that your family member receives the best care possible. The old phrase, "if you want something done right, do it yourself" becomes your mantra. This is a valid belief, because studies show that in the majority of cases, a family member is in a caregiver role due to the fact that they are the only family member able or willing to take on the responsibility.

What I am going to suggest to you is to adopt a "healthy ignore". This means setting aside time for yourself every day. This is sacred time and, barring an emergency, should not be given up without a fight. You will have to decide how much time you are comfortable taking for yourself. Start small - fifteen minutes a day - and see how you handle that time out. Slowly increase it. 

What I mean by a "healthy ignore" is that if a phone call comes in, ignore it. if you are dealing with a loved one who has access to a phone, you may get twenty phone calls a day. There is no need to answer every one. Will you feel guilty about not answering? Will there be fear and concern that something is really wrong? Absolutely. But you need an uninterrupted break for yourself every day. By experiencing this "healthy ignore", you are caring for yourself, which, in turn, will make you a more effective and productive caregiver. You may also become comfortable with answering every other phone call throughout the day.

Remember, you are your first patient.

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