In times of social distancing, our online usage may be taking an uptick. It’s important to ask yourself: are you spending that extra time online nourishing yourselves with self-care, positive connections and entertainment or are you consumed with the barrage of credible and not-so-credible news stories and posts about COVID-19?
It’s not easy to avoid developing anxiety from watching the endless stream of information from news stations and politicians. It’s important to self-edit when and what type of news you want from your newsfeed. Disconnect from sources (and people) that you do not find credible or useful. Oftentimes, credible organizations, like LUNGevity, will deliver reliable and useful information right to your email inbox.
2. Set boundaries
Some lung cancer caregivers struggle with boundaries—for themselves and for the person they are caring for. Caregiving can sometimes be a role reversal for many families, but having a conversation about expectations and boundaries doesn’t have to be difficult.
Verbalize fears and expectations
Stick to it!
Example #1: Mom isn’t taking any precautions and will not socially distance because “nothing could be worse than the cancer I already have,” “it’s my life and no one is going to tell me what to do,” or “whatever happens, it’s out of my hands”:
Verbalize your fears to mom about not taking precautions. Ask her healthcare provider for information, tip sheets and/or to have a conversation with her about the importance of social distancing and COVID-19 safety.Finally, be realistic. Mom may be cavalier about herself, but what about the health of her loved ones? Who will care for mom if YOU get sick?
Example #2: Being unable to leave the house has changed the dynamic of your caregiving role. You feel worn down, frustrated and maybe even filled with anxiety.
Schedule time throughout the day to give yourself a break! You can change your routine, watch TV or read a book in a different room, sit on your patio or in your garden to change up your view, take long baths and start a new Netflix series.While you are social distancing, you can still utilize online resources, connect with others, and chat with friends.
3. Address concerns
These are uncertain and scary times for many people. It’s normal that a patient might be feeling especially anxious. It’s important to address any concerns your loved one might have before they impact their health or well-being.
For example, perhaps your loved one doesn’t want to go to treatment because of COVID-19 concerns. Talk with them about what their fears are. Go over the CDC safety recommendations. Get their patient navigator or other healthcare professional on the line to discuss ways they are keeping their patients safe during this time.
Hearing out their concerns and addressing them candidly is essential to work through these concerns.
4. Keep busy!
While there are many things we can no longer do because of the importance of social distancing and closures, keeping busy can help us feel productive, useful and purposeful. It can also stave off negative feelings, anxiety, and depression.
My family has reverted back to activities we did when our children were small. We take long (safe social distancing) walks, do puzzles together and play board games. We are talking more and cooking together. I’ve found this to be a real silver lining in these uncertain times.
5. Start what you've been putting off
Denise from Caregiving.com has this to say: During a time of uncertainty, it seems odd to start what you’ve been putting off. When we can’t be sure what will happen next, we may feel that now is the time to put projects and goals on hold.
Instead, now may be the best time to start that project or goal. Commit to spending a few minutes a day on something you’ve put off for later. The focus on something other than worries can be so helpful. The opportunity to be productive on a priority can be so energizing. The chance to clear our mind’s clutter by taking care of that project or goal can be comforting.
Do you have tips or new concerns as a caregiver during these challenging times that you’d like to share? Email me at kbrown@LUNGevity.org.
Katie Brown is the Vice President of Support and Survivorship Programs at LUNGevity.