After spending 4 hours in the emergency room with my mom last night, I find myself, once again, with my parent’s today…
Yes, it’s another day in paradise.
Caring for our loved ones is a labor of love but, let’s be honest, it can take a toll on us as humans. Whether it’s your parents/spouse/friend/child who’s ill, caretaking can bring up a cornucopia of emotions such as guilt, shame, exhaustion, anger and deep love. Managing your feelings and your own life can get messy and it’s not uncommon for your own self-care to take a back seat.
How do you care for yourself when you are struggling to find the time to care for others?
- Pay attention to living a well-balanced life. Happiness and contentment rest on a series of facets: work, play, family etc. Establish a clear vision of your priorities and make sure that they all have equal time in your life. Putting yourself first on the list does mean that at times (less important) tasks for others will need to wait. No guilt; think of putting on your oxygen mask before you can assist others.
- Delegate! You are not superwoman and you don’t play her on TV. We all want to be the heroes of our own stories but truthfully, those high expectations can be self-defeating. Setting realistic expectations will take the pressure off of you and also set healthy boundaries for those you love. It’s ok to be human and explain to our parents/children/spouses that we simply cannot do it all. Take a break when you need it. Pull back and let others take over.
- Build a team! Create a network of help in different capacities and call upon the team when needed. Remember that it takes a village. Knowing your resources will help ease the burden as well; there are paid and non-paid services and also government assistance might be appropriate for your loved one.
- Take the time to de-stress everyday. Whether it’s an afternoon walk with your dog, spending time on your yoga mat, having coffee with a friend or taking 10 minutes to read or knit. Do for yourself as you would unto others.
- Have weekly/monthly conversations with family or those involved in the care…set expectations, create a culture of care (not just for your loved ones but for everyone). Decisions should benefit the patient but also the greater good (that of the caretakers).
- Be sure to maintain a healthy diet and sleep schedule. Carrying your food with you is simple and will reduce the stress brought about by a lack of planning. This might seem like another thing on your to-do list but planning and prepping meals can really reduce stress and improve your health (and ability to care for others). In addition, setting a solid sleep and nighttime routine will help you wind down and get the rest you need before tackling the next day’s responsibilities. For more suggestions, click here for “Routines that Optimize Weightloss”
- Reach out to a friend, social worker or someone who you can talk to about your feelings.