Caregiver Capacity and New Year’s Resolutions

2017 New Year's Resolution

Chances are pretty good that you made a resolution this year – in fact about half of all Americans make a New Year’s resolution each year, and most are around wellness. We collectively resolve to make a change to eat healthier, exercise more, drink less or spend more quality time with loved ones. Maybe you’re even more ambitious and you have resolved to travel, learn a new language or write the next great American novel. Whatever your ambition, it’s our chance to reset and make goals to ensure we are caring for ourselves in 2017.

January is a time to look forward and back

New Years is the perfect time to do it; the month of January is often thought to be named after the ancient Roman deity, Janus. Janus is known for having two faces, which look both forward and backwards at the same time. It’s the perfect symbolism for the New Year, as it is our chance to reflect back on the prior year, while planning for the next.

Looking back at last year, if you are in a direct service field, like me, maybe your focus on Caregiver Capacity wasn’t as good as you had hoped. Caregiver Capacity is often easy to forget and overlook, particularly in the busy-ness that is the December holiday season. While our best intentions may have been to be mindful and enjoy the holidays, before we know it – the season is over, and we wonder where the time has gone. In these moments, we may catch ourselves looking more backwards than forwards.

Consider small, incremental changes

One thing that I believe from my time working in child welfare and coaching foster parents, is that making small, incremental changes can make a huge impact moving forward.

Angi Krueger
Angi Krueger

A small resolution that I am making this year is to sit less, and stand more. For me, so much of what I have learned about Caregiver Capacity is paying attention to how I feel physically. Sitting behind a desk can make my back and neck ache. Sitting for extended hours at a time leads to feeling drained, and not focusing as well as I would like. If you can, add a standing desk to your work space to remind you to be on your feet more. This may not work for everyone, but even small forward steps, like getting up every hour to stretch and walk around can make a big difference in how you feel and your ability to focus.

Your own Caregiver Capacity resolution may be something different, but it’s important to remember to make time to care for ourselves, whether we are working in a high-stress field, caring for children who have experienced trauma, or managing stressors in our personal relationships. As caregivers, our ability to care and aid others directly correlates to how we are managing our own stresses. And remember, don’t let your New Year’s resolution be another source of stress for you.

Be kind to yourself

According to most new research, it takes about 66 days to create a new habit, just over two months. So while I would encourage you to resolve today to do something this year to care for yourself, be compassionate to yourself and remember that it takes time to make your new caregiver capacity strategy a habit!

Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments. To get more ideas about Caregiver Capacity all year long, check out my colleague’s blog, “What Caregiver Capacity Means to Me.”

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