Caregiver self-care is known as “finding balance.”
From time-to-time caregivers need to be reminded of the fact that they need to also care for themselves. After all, if a caregiver falls ill, who will continue with providing care to their loved one. In my book, One Caregiver’s Journey, I often advise that caregiver self-care is virtually impossible. During my nearly decade of caring for my mother I was laser-focused on my caregiving duties and not on myself. When I’d bring my mother to a family function everyone would remark that she looked wonderful and that I looked tired. As the years continued, I continued to become more fatigued. The last six months were brutal for me and now whenever I look back on those days, I honestly wonder how did I do it? I needed balance.
Balance is somewhere between rest and exasperating stress. It is the act of allowing a bit of grace into your life on a daily basis. Caregivers have different ways of finding balance or caregiver self-care. At one time I thought balance was doing everything in equal measure, every day. The truth is that sometimes important things need to move to the backburner. All the balls don’t have to be in the air simultaneously, it’s ok to put some of them down for a later time. Balance is accepting reality. It is about making a decision to give yourself permission to make tough choices and be true to yourself.
Deep down, on some level, caregivers know what they need most. If you can align yourself to those priorities, you’ll feel balanced. The problem is that our true priorities come from within and are probably competing with a lot of noise. You have a million competing thoughts at once and feel guilty about something you think you “should” be doing, and not because it is important. If you are trying to find space in your life for what matters to you AND what matters to everyone else, you’re going to run out of space. In order to find balance, or caregiver self-care, you need to learn to tune out the noise. There will always be time for the things that matter most to you, but be honest about what those things are. As the saying goes – you can do anything, but you can’t do everything. How do you practice caregiver self-care?
Where is your happy place? For me, it is in the kitchen.
- When I am stressed or frustrated, I gravitate to my kitchen to cook and bake. It is where I re-charge and everyone needs a happy place where they feel safe, and no one will judge or criticize them.
- Take advantage of recognizing and appreciating the good in your day to balance challenges. There is always something to smile about, always a time when the day was successful, and you felt good. Even in the darkest of times, there is light.
- Practice yoga and feel inner peace with that discipline. Many people are transported to a place that relieves stress and tension in yoga.
Spend 30 minutes walking or just moving.
- The best way to eliminate burnout is to move. Endorphins come to life in exercise and life gets a bit better.
- Just sit quietly. Meditation can be quiet thoughts, contemplative mindset where you just close your eyes and let yourself wind down for 20 minutes.
- Step outside and recharge, just by breathing in fresh air. Don’t stand there and look at your phone, tik tok or emails. Feel the air, look at the sky, the birds, butterflies, the snowcapped hills or barren ground. It only takes a few moments of fresh air to improve your inner strength.
- Many people read to transport their minds to the stories. Reading or listening to books allows people to relax and become part of another world.
- Many adults are creative and have hobbies sch as quilting, painting, or drawing. Being creative is one way to find balance by expressing yourself through creative ventures.
Today more than ever caregiver self-care is not only important, but it is imperative. The fast-paced, highly charged world we live in demands everyone practice some type of self-care. But when added to the stress and challenges of being a caregiver, finding balance is more important. Pick up a copy of One Caregiver’s Journey on Amazon or at my website www.onecaregiversjourney.com.