by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
I took a major leap of faith to make a big transition into launching my second career as a 50+ single woman. I left a stable music education job, sold my Florida home, and moved to my Kentucky home-state to be in place as my mother’s caregiver (fulfilling a promise I made to my father on his deathbed in 2014).
Now I have the chance to work from home as I pursue my life-long dream of writing, composing music, and creating online products and courses (stay tuned!).
Going down the path to my dreams isn’t easy. I’ve had some crazy, unanticipated obstacles. People have disappointed me in ways I never saw coming. I’ve made mistakes. Some things failed entirely. I’ve gotten worn down by the constant juggling of entrepreneurial, caregiver, volunteer, and creative tasks.
My Closest Companions, Fear And Doubt
During the first 18 months of this transition, my closest companions were my overwhelming self-doubt and fear. My tendency toward insomnia escalated dramatically with my nightly battle against anxiety.
The switch from my steady teaching job to being a caregiver and entrepreneur in a new living scenario raised my deepest doubts. This constantly interfered with my sleep patterns and stunted my wisdom to make decisive, appropriate business decisions. I often felt paralyzed with my self-doubt.
In fairness, I’ve battled my self-doubt my entire life. I’m a worrier, a deep thinker, and have tremendous perfectionism and OCD tendencies. But this new chapter of my life tapped into my inner fears more deeply than ever.
Wrestling my negative feelings head-on, I’ve pulled out all the stops to win over them. I’m gratefully making wonderful progress with overcoming insomnia, and with winning over my mental angst.
Read more suggestions on how I’m defeating fear and doubt here.
Guard Your Sleep Routine
I’ve discovered the power of a regular routine. I vigilantly guard my night routine. As a deep thinker, it takes effort to stop my mind from swirling. I can’t sleep if I’m thinking!
Early Versus Later
It takes me more than one hour to get to sleep. If I don’t go to sleep early enough, I think all night at the sacrifice of sleep. I’ve learned that going to bed earlier helps me sleep more. If I go to bed late, my mind starts twitching and I end up tossing and turning all night.
Consistency helps train my body and brain to get more rest. As I maintain my early-to-bed, early-to-rise routine, I’m getting more restful sleep. The more I protect my regular sleep and morning routines, the easier it gets for me to relax into sleep. There is power in a regular routine.
Get Outdoors & Move
Regular exercise helps wear me out enough to overpower my mind with pure physical exhaustion. I aim to walk or cycle every afternoon. This helps alleviate the muscle tension from sitting at a computer or piano keyboard all day.
Exercise also refreshes my state of mind, gives me a dose of fresh air, inspires me with the beauty of nature, and often gives me a second wind to keep working after dinner.
In my blog, Why Taking Care of Yourself Is The Best Thing For Others, I share how research has proven that when people take breaks, they refuel creativity and are more productive at work.
Getting outdoors for some quiet reflection, a vigorous walk or bike ride, or participating in an outdoor sport are all ways to give yourself a break from constant mental work or a sedentary lifestyle. Doing so helps balance your emotions, refresh your productivity, and help your body relax.
Shut Things Down
When it’s time for sleep, I must deliberately close down electronics, work, and even social interaction to give myself time to wind down toward rest.
Here are my Top Tips For Winning Over Insomnia:
As unoriginal as it sounds, exercise, healthy diet and a steady daily routine do wonders for your overall wellness. One of the best bits of advice I received, was to establish a consistent daily rhythm. Having a morning and evening routine helps set the tone for my day and paves the way for restful sleep at night.
Developing a daily routine while vigilantly training my brain to see my best self has been helping me achieve more as I continue forging my new adventurous path. I plan to keep moving forward toward my dreams as I challenge myself to fulfill my potential.
I hope my strategy for sleep is helpful to you, too. Please let me know in the comments below if it is, or if you have any questions or other topics you’d like me to explore more deeply!
I sincerely pray this content inspires YourCreativeChord!
CLICK HERE for some wonderful resources I use and recommend for best sleep, music, yoga and wellness!
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How To Use Self-Care To Feel Happy
5 Ways To Use Music & Nature For Self-Care
Defeat Fear & Doubt with Your Courage & Capability
How To Deflect Negativity To Become Happier
Believing In The Positive
To Climb Again My Kilimanjaro
(This piece originally appeared at TheCaregiverSpace.org )
By Jenny Leigh Hodgins
I segued into the role of caregiver for my aging parent quicker than expected. Last year, I left my 30-year career, and sold my Florida home to move back to Kentucky as my mother’s caregiver. I planned to be in place well ahead of need, while I transitioned to working remotely as a freelancer.
1. LIFE’S CURVEBALLS AND SLEDGEHAMMERS
Things don’t always go according to plan. Life hits with big moments whenever it damn well feels like it. Like many adult children, I face the bittersweet reality of being a caregiver to my parent before either of us are ready. I thought I’d have time to ease into the role, but sometimes health issues pop up or wallop like a sledgehammer.
What a wake-up call, being there when Mom is ill, pained face, weak and trembling, incoherent and out-of-it. Alone in that moment, feeling the full burden of being responsible for her well-being can be an enormously scary place. Facing the impending reality of that final chapter in the cycle of life is not for sissies.
The foreign world of medical terms, insurance and co-pays, increasingly hectic medical appointment schedule, and daily living responsibilities can add up to an overwhelming mountain of pressure. I hadn’t anticipated how my own daily rhythm would be derailed, interrupted or flat-out sacrificed at times.
2. GET AHEAD OF THE CURVE
The learning curve comes swiftly, so I’ve found it best to get my game plan in place, and build my life-state to be ready to play. I’ve discovered the importance of taking care of myself. Putting that oxygen mask on myself first enables me to ward against getting overwhelmed or sick, and be better prepared emotionally, spiritually and practically as caregiver.
3. GET YOUR GAME ON
That means I have to protect my daily rhythm. To be effective in my work as a writer and composer, as a caregiver, and more balanced in my wellness, I have to establish ‘me time’. I rise early to pray, eat and have uninterrupted workflow when I function at my best.
I schedule exercise later in the day to maintain my energy. I use my smartphone calendar app to send me alerts so I stay, or get back on, task. Mapping out my own daily schedule and preserving it as best I can keeps me on top of things and less overwhelmed when Mom’s needs arise.
4. PLAN TO BE THERE IN ADVANCE
I’m grateful to have already settled in, so I’m here when Mom needs me. Not having to rush from another state, or even across town, or leave my workplace, is one load of worry off our minds. My being in place takes some burden off my other family members who don’t have the liberty of leaving jobs, children or properties.
5. TEAM HUDDLE
Keeping open communication with Mom and family members about her health, financial and social needs, as well as legal plans, distributes the caregiving load and assures Mom that we are onboard and unified to uphold her wishes. Getting things in place beforehand helps alleviate worry from all.
This attempt to keep all in the loop brings us closer in harmony to one another. For the caregiver, that support from family team players is indispensable to peace of mind, providing further strength for the tasks ahead.
6. KNOW WHAT YOU KNOW
Getting to know my mother’s daily rhythm gives me knowledge useful for effective emergency response. Being familiar with her usual mannerisms, daily lifestyle, energy, verbal and cognitive responses makes it easy to recognize when something isn’t right.
Paying attention to symptoms early on allows early detection and an upper hand in maintaining her wellness. Knowing her doctors, appointments, medications, and health issues is powerful ammunition against mishaps, and preventative against health problems that could run undetected.
The role of caregiver can present itself sooner than anticipated, bringing unexpected, new challenges. But I’m finding that having a game plan, a great team that communicates well, a strategy for maintaining my wellness, and tackling challenges with gusto allows me to respond well even to the hardest curveball.
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In my Spiritual Wellness blogs, you’ll find ways to overcome obstacles, reach goals, and experience more joy in the moment with spiritual awareness and inner transformation.