To Thine Own Self Be True: Self Care for Caregivers
Being “the rock” in someone’s life — a caregiver — can take a big physical, emotional, and spiritual toll. And when your loved one is struggling, the last thing you’re inclined to do is take care of yourself.
It may seem selfish to say, “Hey, I need to do something for myself.” But that’s precisely what you must do.
Be Your Own Best Friend
Let’s face it: this period of your life is hard. Really hard. Watching when someone you love is weak, compromised and struggling can be devastating…even more so when you have to shoulder the additional responsibilities of being their caregiver.
But this is your life right now. Accept it, then embrace the idea that you are have to be your own best friend. You owe it to yourself. Your needs are not secondary; they must be primary. You are the driving force and you need fuel.
As a caregiver, taking care of yourself is like a pregnant woman “eating for two.” You must maintain your health and spirits not only for your loved one, but also for yourself.
Being a caregiver is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace and nourish yourself accordingly. It may first go against your instincts, with practice you can make prioritizing your self-care a habit.
Try to care for yourself as you’d care for a child. Be kind to yourself. Be gentle. Eat healthy meals and get some exercise. Take walks, and spend time with people who love you.
Do things that make you feel good. Get a massage, play golf with a friend, watch a movie, read, go to the beach, go swimming, hike to a scenic overlook, listen to music, plant flowers, volunteer, tutor, and so on.
Be patient with yourself. Remember, your well being is critical for both you and your loved one.
How Do You Take Care of Yourself?
If you are or have ever been a caregiver, we’d love to hear how you keep yourself healthy both physically and emotionally. Please share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments section below.