Have you ever found yourself so exhausted and snapping at your family for no-good reason? Or, maybe you got so involved taking care of everyone else in your home that may be sick that you forget to take the time to eat properly yourself? If so, you are not alone. Life can be overwhelming at times for all of us, but it is especially true for caregivers. This is why self-care is important when you are a caregiver for your family.
Though it is only natural to want the best for our family and loved ones, there has to be a reasonable limit of what you can handle to keep your life in balance. Caring done out of love is one thing because it makes you feel good giving of yourself like that. Sharing yourself for the benefit of others makes you feel like a better and stronger person for it.
On the other hand, overdoing care helps no one because you are not a machine. What is driving you to this point is a question that you need to ask yourself? Is it guilt, low self-esteem or just what people typically expect of you? Your health could suffer and your emotions could plummet just because you fail to recognize why self-care is a must.
Generally speaking, it helps to know how to recognize the initial signs of self-care burnout and take action. The moment you feel your anger mounting or are becoming upset because things aren’t going as planned is a time to step back. Your body could be telling you what you may obviously be missing by getting a headache, tight shoulders to gritting your teeth or narrowing your brows. Instead, take a break from whatever you are doing to relax. Sit, make a cup of tea or scream into a pillow if you like, if it helps the tension temporarily subside.
Why a Self-Care Scheduled Plan of Action Can Help
Despite obligations, you as a caregiver are good to no one unless you practice self-care. In short, you need to schedule self-care to keep in healthy control of your emotions and body. You may find granting yourself an hour every day to just 15 minutes for some “me-time” with a soothing bath, a book, television for a good laugh, music to a cup of tea or coffee can make all the difference in calming your stressed mood, heart rate and blood pressure, let alone your appetite in some cases. Stepping away for even a short time can help.
You may have an elderly or seriously ill relative living with you that you can’t leave alone. If so, another suggestion of scheduled self-care is planning ahead by making arrangements for someone else you trust to take over for you one day or night for a few hours while you do some shopping, get a haircut, go out to dinner, see a movie, etc.
When you have a lot on your plate, you as a caregiver, may forget the importance of eating properly. Instead of serving everyone else, you may neglect to take the time for a nourishing meal, which will hurt everyone in the long run. You may become sick and then who will take care of them?
Journaling your thoughts as a caregiver also serves as a wonderful form of self-care. Alone with just your notebook and pen, you can express how you feel day by day. You can learn a lot about yourself as well as noticing how you responded to certain situations that may help you better handle them later.
You love those that you are caring for, but remember you must love yourself as well. In short, this is why self-care is important for any caregiver!