Self-Care for Caregivers
One thing that is easy to overlook is the stress that caregivers put on themselves while taking care of a loved one. An important thing to keep in mind is the fact that it is okay to feel overwhelemed, to feel run down, to feel the need to take some time for yourself.
Self care is the simple act of taking time for yourself. It is something that is often overlooked by those that are working to help someone else, particularly when struggling with end of life issues. Giving yourself permission to take some time to cope is perfectly acceptable and something that is encouraged by Sierra Hospice and other care providers.
While everyone is different, here are a few ideas to help you get started with things you can do each day to help you relax and re-center your mind:
- Take a short walk – even just going outside and moving around a little can have beneficial effects on your mood
- Meditate – you do not need to know much about meditation in order to get some benefits from it. Find a quiet spot and try to clear your mind. If you find your mind racing focus on taking deep breaths, in and out, and focus solely on the breathing and try to push out other thoughts, worries, and anxieties.
- Art – creativity uses a different part of the mind then the rest of what you are dealing with at the moment. You don’t need to be a great artist to draw, color, or write something creative. This helps to soothe and relax the mind and can be done anywhere at almost any time.
- Sleep – when we are sleep deprived our brains simply don’t process information as well. Making sure that you are getting enough sleep each night is critical when you want to stay alert to help your loved ones.
- Entertainment – yes, television, movies, books, music, podcasts, video games, radio, and even watching children or animals play and allowing yourself to enjoy that entertainment can be a great way to redirect some of your energy temporarily and help your mood.
Self care is about you and focusing on yourself, but keep in mind that if you are not at your best then you will struggle to be able to help. You being at your best helps the person you are caring for and that care is critical for both them and for you. Taking care of yourself may seem selfish, but it is not selfish at all to make sure that you are staying in shape, both mentally and physically, so that you can be there for the person you care for.