Self-Care: The Most Important Part Of Being A “Good” Caregiver.
Self-care is something that many of us struggle with, and the holiday season or special occasions can add an extra layer of stress. It’s so easy to get so wrapped up in being a “good” caregiver that we forget, that the most important part of being a “good” caregiver, is taking care of ourselves.
We all want to take the time, but we just can’t seem to justify or find time to do so. Before we say we don't have the time, let's think about this: If you don’t find the time to take care of yourself and you fall ill, end up in the hospital or a rehab stay, who is going to take care of your loved one? I know, you're thinking easier said than done. It is true! However, I have been a caregiver and watched other family members be caregivers and the toll it takes on you is real. So, I want to share with you some ideas that worked for me. I realize this won't work for everyone, but hopefully one of these ideas will help you find what works for you.
First, I love music and so I utilized that to make different play lists. When I’m feeling low energy I use a playlist to get me moving (great to vacuum to by the way). When I feel drained, I have a different play list that gives me inspiration and hope. Music is an easy tool to use and always available for most people.
Another tool I use is sleep. As caregivers, we must make sleep a priority, even a short nap during the day. Sleep is when our body heals and regenerates. Without this our immune systems weaken and it is harder to fight off illness and irritability.
Finally, I practice “being present.” So often we are there in body but our mind is elsewhere and this actually causes more stress since we know that we're not present, and we might miss important things like that smile or a laugh, or something that was said. Being present is hard to do, it takes practice, but it makes me feel more at peace and less stressed in the long run. So, try it! Take a deep breath, stay focused and in the moment.
Sheri Reber is a licensed Social Service Worker, Certified Dementia Practitioner, Trainer, RCI REACH Caregiver Coach and Therapeutic Recreation Technician. She has been with the Area Agency on Aging- Five County since 2015, and has worked in the social services field in South West Utah since 1995.