We hear a lot about self-care, especially as caregivers. Yet many of us continue to feel guilty when we practice it. Why is that? What can you do to change your attitude toward your self-care?
Everyone else comes first.
As caregivers, we become good at looking out for the well-being of everyone around us, while neglecting our own well-being. It’s an easy trap to fall into. As your loved one is being diagnosed, your sympathetic nervous system kicks into high gear. This is the fight or flight mechanism that turns on when you need to make rapid life and death decisions. It’s understandable that for a while, all of your attention will be focused on your loved one.
The problem is that we often forget to refocus some of that attention back onto ourselves once we regain our bearings. We will take care of the kids, our spouse, and anyone else we love, but we forget that we have needs, too.
Until you crash and burn…out.
It will happen sooner or later if you don’t implement some self-care strategies.
- Know the signs of burnout, so you can head it off at the pass.
- Communicate with those around you, so they know how you are doing and can help you avoid burnout.
- Take care of your health. Make appointments with your doctors when you need them. See a dentist 1-2 times a year. Exercise, exercise, exercise.
- Regularly get together with a trusted friend to talk, cry, and laugh.
- See a therapist. Even if you don’t need one yet, chances are you will at some point in your caregiving journey, so find one and develop a good professional relationship with him/her.
- Take time out to do whatever you need to do, even if it’s just to nap without interruption. If you need to arrange for respite care, do it. It’s important.
- Take care of your spiritual well-being. Pray, attend services, Mass, Temple, mosque, etc. Deepen your walk with God and your spiritual community.
- Baby steps. You don’t need to do it all at once. At least one time each week, do a self-check-in. Ask, “What do I need most?” and respond to that need.
Is Self-Care a Luxury?
It often feels like it is. My husband gave me a luxurious gift this Christmas. He gave me a gift card to the nail salon that gave me my bridal manicure nearly 10 years ago. I put off going for a couple of months because I wanted to save it for something really special. Then, the day before Valentine’s Day I decided to get my nails done. It was so much fun. And I had an hour of just sitting and getting pampered. Plus, the expression on my hubby’s face was so priceless.
So, if self-care is a luxury, it’s one you can’t afford to waste. By taking care of yourself, you will be more equipped to care for your loved ones.
Once again I will be doing double duty in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I will be sharing ways to avoid burnout, here at Facing Cancer with Grace. At Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, I will share ways of thinking creatively, using Brainsparker’s Kickstart Course of A to Z prompts. I hope you’ll visit me at both sites.
What do you do for self-care?
What Are Your Thoughts?
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In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at Amazon.com:
I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker