Self-Care as a Caregiver

by Krysten FordAugust 26, 2019View more posts from Krysten Ford

Self-Care as a Caregiver. It kind of sounds redundant I know… How can you give yourself any care if you’re busy taking care of people who desperately need your help? Well, everyone knows the mumbo jumbo that’s thrown around that if you take better care of yourself you can take better care of those around you. But there’s actually a giant form of self-care that is totally overlooked by most people and it would make your life so much easier!

COMMUNICATION

Communication is the worlds littlest known form of self-care and as a caregiver it’s your most important form of self-care. If you don’t have good communication with yourself… You cannot expect those around you to be able to communicate well with you either. It’s as simple as that.

Now, in terms of communicating with yourself… this can be pretty difficult if you don’t know where to start and most people don’t! And no, rambling on to yourself about everything you have to do today is not what I mean by communicating… that’s just talking to yourself, haha!

Talking to yourself in a positive manner and letting your mind connect with your body occasionally to make sure everything is okay is the first step towards making sure that you are taking yourself into consideration.

I know as a caregiver it is your job to be strong emotionally and put yourself aside for your loved one. Trust me… I get it. But what you don’t realize is that after that battle has either been won, lost or postponed… You won’t have a clue who else you are outside of being a caregiver. Taking time to be with yourself is extremely important for those of us who are caregivers!

There are a lot of blogs and articles out there about positive self-talk but for caregivers you have to take an even bigger step backwards in regard to communicating with yourself… Many caregivers don’t know how to even begin communicating with themselves let alone changing that talk from negative to positive. Right now, your self-talk is non-existent.

So, the first step I highly recommend in taking care of yourself is to simply: Do more for yourself. Realize that its okay to take a step for yourself to feel better. I would like every caregiver reading this to take a second to first, take a deep breath. However long you feel you need to have! Second, I’d like you to say to yourself, “I want to take better care of myself.” There is no one on this planet that will make you get in touch with yourself better than you! So, once you accept that you do want to take care of yourself, there’s this wave of relief that comes over you because you realize in that moment that:

IT’S OKAY TO LOVE YOURSELF AND BE A CAREGIVER FOR YOURSELF TOO!

If you’re someone who just doesn’t feel like they want to take care of themselves just yet, that’s okay too! Everyone is on a different journey and you are where you need to be right now. However, if you let your loved on read this, they’ll probably say that you should be taking care of yourself too!

Trust me when I say this, you may think that you were not meant to be a caregiver, that this happened by accident, but it didn’t! You are in this person’s life because they need you, but you need you as well! You have it in you to care for many people, including yourself. Embrace it!

Let me break down some steps for you to start communicating with yourself a little better after you’ve decided that you do want to take care of yourself:

  1. When you wake up in the morning, take one second to ask yourself, “How am I today?” Be honest with yourself, do a body scan and see what’s going on physically. Scan your emotions and see what’s going on there! It takes a few minutes, TOPS!
  2. After you’ve answered that question, ask yourself, “What should I do today to alleviate, change, or enhance how I am right now?” If you are feeling absolutely great and have no complaints on life…Great! Now how can you stay that way throughout the day? If you have back pain and are feeling pretty exhausted, you might need to take some hot tub time, have a nap later, or get some coffee on the way to wherever you’re going!
  3. SAY #2 OUT LOUD and say it with a smile. Whatever it is that you think you need to do to alleviate, change, or enhance how you’re feeling, say it out loud. Say it to yourself in the mirror, say it to your loved one, say it in the bathroom while you’re showering! Once you say it out loud, that makes it real. That puts it in your brain to be something that you should do today. Saying it with a smile tells your brain that it’s a positive thing, something good for yourself. This will help make it feel like something you should be doing instead of having caregivers’ guilt about taking care of yourself.
  4. And lastly, DO IT! Make time for yourself. The answer from #2 is too much stuff for one day, so I break it down day by day until each thing becomes a habit.

I hope this helps those of you who are feeling like you want to make a change for yourself and I wish you and your person all the happy times in the world because you guys deserve them!

:-)