My Health is a Priority
I have posted several times on here and I read other people's posts/comments at least a couple of times a week. As a recent poster noted, her life is totally tied up with her parent, and that's been the same for me in the past 5 years as well.
I have a huge amount on my plate including working full time and commuting. I take care of 2 houses (my parent's and mine) and do lawn care, snow shoveling, cleaning, laundry and food shopping for both of us. My parent is 100% in her right mind and has been declining but isn't willing to change anything in her situation (that is, move).
I used to feel resentful especially towards my sibling who doesn't help but I've come to terms with it. What helped me is seeing my parent declining more and more in the past year. It's now apparent to me that she doesn't have many more years to live and I want to make her last years as easy and pleasant as possible. In other words, my caregiving time is almost up, so I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. This has caused a big change in my frame of mind in the past year. Before that, I was operating on burnout most of the time.
It might sound trite, but one of the ways that I try to cope with the demands of my job and caregiving is that I am very strict about prioritizing my own health. I make sure that I eat right, get enough sleep, exercise as much as I can (3-5 times a week), and maintain my sanity and serenity (spiritual practices). I do all of these things even if I have to cut out other things like social life. Prioritizing my own health has helped my mood, my weight, and my energy level. I feel good about myself and that has made me happier. All in all, a foundation of good health has enabled me to handle the stresses on me.
The bottom line is that I have had to say NO to a lot of other people. The priorities are my parent, my job, and me. That's the way it has to be. Some of my so-called friends resented that I couldn't dash about with them and waste my precious free time doing things THEY wanted to do (which I didn't want to do) like watching stupid movies or going shopping or eating out.
So they're annoyed, so what!! I am a lot happier now that I've gotten rid of all of the extraneous demands on my time. Whatever little free time I have is for ME. I enjoy reading, walking, cooking healthy foods, going to the health club. It's great to feel healthy.