Invisible caregivers are those who provide care for others without any recognition or acknowledgment. If you are an invisible caregiver, you may feel taken for granted and unappreciated. While it is impossible to force others to show appreciation, there are some things you can do in the way you communicate with others to ease the burden of caregiving and make your own needs a priority.
As caregivers, we often suffer in silence because we remain silent. Use the 3 languages of caregivers; casual talk, caregiver talk, and self-talk to let others know what you need.
A casual way of speaking with a co-worker, a friend, or a stranger at the grocery store. Our casual talk is filtered to be polite and non-threatening.
Society trains us to keep everything surface-level. If someone asks how we are, we say fine no matter what the real story is.
The next time someone asks how you are, try one of these responses. They open the door just a crack for deeper human connection giving the receiver room to open the door all the way or stick with surface-level small talk.
You might get some unexpected encouragement. Being honest and letting people in a little while you vent can do wonders for your psyche.
8 Unique Ways to Answer “How are you?”
- Personally? Physically? Financially? Career-wise? or Relationship-wise?
- You go first. Then we can compare.
- Can’t complain. I’ve tried, but no one listens.
- I will leave that up to your imagination.
- It’s a secret.
- How do you want me to be?
- Okay so far, but there’s plenty of time for things to get worse.
- Overworked and underpaid.
Caregivers speak with care, patience, and compassion to our loved ones and those we provide care for. But you can also use caregiver talk to express your feelings and to set boundaries with the person you are caring for. Use caregiver talk to your advantage.
Here is a practical example. You are a caregiver for your mother with dementia. She is in a bad mood and doesn’t want to eat the healthy lunch you have prepared. Rather than plastering on a fake smile and reminding Mom that she has to eat. Try telling her you don’t love eating healthy all the time either. But you can’t let her go without the nutrition she needs. Maybe even share a guilty, snack food pleasure you wish you both could have right now.
Speaking your truth in the situation rather than playing the role of saintly caregiver can be so liberating.
3 Subtle Ways to Use Caregiver Talk Honestly
- This is no picnic for me either.
- I’m tired too.
- This is hard. But I’m making it work to be here for you.
Self-talk is the language we use to talk to ourselves. The manner in which you speak to yourself should promote positive images and emotions reinforcing your individual value, importance, and place in the world. Otherwise, you are engaging in negative self-talk which will only serve to tear yourself down from the inside and make everything that much harder. The next time you look in the mirror try one of the affirmations below and check out my Instagram, @a_tailored_life4caregivers for more affirmations.
3 Positive Self-talk affirmations
- Hello Beautiful! or Hello Handsome!
- You are fabulous!
- You were brilliant today!
2. Prioritize Your well-being
A common mistake many caregivers make is putting their own health and well-being on the back burner. They are so busy taking care of others that they forget to care for themselves. This can be especially dangerous when you have elderly, young, or developmentally challenged people depending on you.
Thirty percent of caregivers die before the people they are caring for. We cannot put off our doctor appointments, preventative care, and healthy lifestyle habits. Otherwise, a small ache or pain we have today might turn into a life-threatening illness that we do not survive.
3. Be Consistent with Your well-being
We make it a goal to help our friends, family, and those we care for live their best lives. But we forget that we also need to live the way we want. Every day, we have to make it a priority to take care of others and to take care of ourselves. Avoid caregiver burnout with these tips:
- Eat a healthy diet
- Stay hydrated
- Get regular exercise
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep
- Keep up with your preventative medical and dental care
- Maintain social relationships and hobbies outside of your caregiving
- Practice stress management methods