Episode 95: Why that Vacation won’t do it for you.
So you desperately needed some time off from caregiving and you finally got to take a night off or a weekend away and find that you don’t feel better and even feel a little worse than before.
Let’s talk about why a night out or a weekend away just won’t do it.
Should you give up on getting out of the house and step away from caregiving? Absolutely not. You should always take any opportunity for a break that comes up. However, if you think that coming back to caregiving will be easy, that you’ll be refreshed and ready to take on anything or come back a new person I hate to break it to you… odds are you won’t.
You want a couple free hours or days to undo all of your caregiving stress that has accumulated over months or years. It’s just not possible.
I encourage you to seek out opportunities to get away and relax but with realistic expectations set for your return.
Being away can make you resent caregiving more.
Getting away can be exciting. Any caregiver would love to have the opportunity to have some time when they don’t have to worry about anyone else but themselves. The thought of it might just make you feel excited and anxious at the same time. But if you have a moment when someone invites you out and the stars align and everything falls into place it might feel like a miracle.
Getting away to unwind is a perfect thing to do if you will be prepared to step into caregiving when you need to when you return. So seeing this as a momentary break instead of how life could be if you weren’t a caregiver would be something to consider. Going out should be done to enjoy the time away, not to create a comparison with all the things you hate about caregiving at the time.
If you use time away as a way to escape more than to relax and release the stress of caregiving you might have a hard time going back to it.
The person you care for can be resentful for you leaving and see it as you needing to take a break from them.
The people we each care for have different ways of reacting to things. However, if you are seeing this time as an escape from caregiving it would be hard for most anyone not to translate that as you trying to escape them. Needing a break from caregiving and needing a break from a person are two different things. Of course you might need a break from them just as much as caregiving but be intentional about how you talk about you getting away.
If it’s getting away because you are really feeling overwhelmed with caregiving and you just need some time to get away from it so you can be refreshed and a better caregiver then that’s the message you should share.
If you act like you can’t get out of the house fast enough then that can really give your loved one something to resent and make your time away and when you come back difficult for both of you.
You spend all of your time worrying.
It’s very easy to spend all of your time worrying when you’re gone. Just know that someone will find a way to contact you if there is an emergency. If you are taking a break then take a break. Set some boundaries for yourself before you go that includes how often you’ll take a phone call or answer a text from anyone in the house and how often you’ll plan on talking about caregiving. If you are trying to relax a little it might feel good to just relate how hard caregiving has been but then move on to having some fun with them. I know it’s hard but try to leave the caregiver at the door.
People can judge you stepping away and you have to not care.
Be prepared to not care about what other people think. It’s almost for certain that someone you know will judge you for being away from the person you care for and having some fun with friends or on your own. It’s just going to happen. There are a couple of ways to approach this. You can decide that nothing goes up on social media. Ask your friends not to post anything with you in it or tag you. Or you can decide that you are just not going to care what anyone has to say and you won’t entertain any conversations about it. You deserve to go out and no one can say otherwise.
Taking a bigger break should be part of an ongoing self care plan where your daily self care is the sentence and the bigger break is the exclamation point.
All drama aside, the real reason why these breaks won’t help is because you’re trying to use them as the answer to your problem. The problem is there is no daily self care so you try to fix that with a big dose of escape. It’s a very temporary solution to a big problem.
If these trips and longer breaks are part of an existing plan they can be the reset that you need and it can actually work. If you have self care built into you daily life and then occasionally take a longer break or vacation it can very easily help you feel better about caregiving and life in general. That’s because it’s part of a bigger plan.
Look, almost everyone dreads going back home when they go on vacation. I know as a parent to a toddler I dreaded going home from having coffee with a friend. That happens when you look at time away as an escape. And an escape is fine if you are very aware that things will be the same when you get back.
The only way to have a life that you enjoy no matter if you are at home or on vacation is to work on ways to care for yourself daily. A retreat might be a good way to show you how good life can feel if you do things for yourself and continue into your regular life when you get home if you continue to care for yourself. However, if you go on vacation and get angry or depressed because your life isn’t as good at home as it was on vacation it’s because you haven’t done anything to make life at home good.
I’ve addressed the importance of self care in previous episodes and I’ll leave the links for them in the show notes for this one on the website.
It should never be an option not to care for yourself and using vacation as escapes are fun but won’t help you enjoy your life anymore when you get back than you did before you left.
Stop trying to find ways to escape your caregiving life and take the time to learn how to love it.
If you’re a caregiver you deserve to enjoy the time you have with the person you care for.
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