Spring is officially here! The clocks have been set forward, tulips, crocuses, and daffodils are starting to emerge, and the days are warming up. What a perfect time to take a moment to explore ways to improve our own self-care, particularly if we are acting as a caregiver to a loved one.
Providing care for a family member in need is an age-old act of kindness, love, and loyalty.
It spans across cultures and situations and is one of life’s most worthwhile sacrifices. Unfortunately, caring for a loved one can also be exhausting, overwhelming, and an all-consuming job. Following are some ways that you, the caregiver, can take care of and nurture yourself, which in turn will benefit the person you are caring for.
Take a break! Allow yourself regular periods of respite in which someone else provides care so that you can get away and get refreshed and rejuvenated. A rested caregiver is a more effective caregiver!
Learn as much as you can about your loved one’s disease. The more you know, the more capable and empowered you are likely to feel when providing the specific care that YOUR loved one most needs.
Seek out other caregivers. Spending time with others who are in similar situations can help you feel less isolated and lonely. You may even learn new tips and ideas from other caregivers to improve your own skills!
Trust your instincts. You know your loved one better than anyone. Trust what you know and use it when providing care! Listen to what the doctor has to say, but trust yourself,
Recognize your limits. There is only so much that any one person can do. Call on your support system of friends, family, church members, etc. to assist you when you feel like it is “too much” for you. Other people are often ready and willing to help. All they need is a little direction from you!
Acknowledge your feelings. Let’s face it. Sometimes being a caregiver can feel like a never-ending, thankless job. Common feelings for people in this role include anxiety/worry, anger, resentment, guilt, and grief. These feelings are normal and a part of the process. Recognizing them and talking to someone you trust about them is often all that is needed to help you cope.
Being a caregiver for someone you love can be the most rewarding, and the most challenging thing you have ever done. By taking good care of yourself and your needs, you actually are doing a favor to your loved one because you will be a more effective caregiver yourself. Remember, you are your own best friend and the best person to take care of you!