By Marta Street, Certified Concierge Care Advisor
I have had many conversations with my clients that are very stressed, tired and at the point of burn out. My first question to them is, “what are you doing for yourself?” With glazed eyes they look back at me saying, “I don’t have time”. As people, not just caregivers, we all need to start making time to take care of ourselves.
There are two examples that come to my mind that demonstrate why this is so important. When you are going on vacation, and sitting in the airplane, what is one of the first things they talk about when it comes to safety? Put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you help anyone else. The other was something I was told long ago when I was training to be an emergency medical technician (EMT) – don’t put yourself in a position that you will create another victim to take care of while helping your patient. Taking care of ourselves is not selfish. Taking a rest is not selfish. It is so very needed.
As caregivers, we need to put ourselves first. Caregiver stress is real, and it takes a toll on us in many ways; physically, mentally, and spiritually.
My daughter, a licensed mental health counselor, has been on me for years about how I do not practice what I preach about good selfcare. Recently, she sent me a handout that she shares with her clients; 100+ ideas of what good selfcare can look like. I would like to share my takeaway from all of this. It doesn’t have to be hard, or frankly very time-consuming at first. It comes down to one thing; what will fill your cup? Is it something social? Maybe doing something creative. What about going out into nature? Who knows, maybe it’s something “healthy”. For some it’s doing something to pamper yourself. Is there something on your “to do list” that by getting it taken care of will remove some stress? Maybe it’s quiet time doing something inspirational. Do you need a good laugh, maybe a good cry or even screaming into your pillow? Do it. Maybe you need to just sit and breathe. Does Journaling help you refocus? There are lots of things that can fit into any of these categories, and self-care is going to look different to everyone. For me, I love to paint. I do Mandala art and Zentagles. It is very repetitive and becomes meditative. Sometimes I veg out in front of Netflix and binge watch a sappy show. That works for me.
The holidays are nearly upon us and this adds even more stress to a caregivers day. My challenge to you (and myself) is to start small -1 day a week for 5 minutes – and do something for yourself. And as you can, keep adding to it until you can be comfortable with taking care of yourself first. You work hard! You deserve to take care of yourself. Because if you don’t…… you won’t be there for the one you love and are caring for.
Now, what are you going to try? You can do it!