The Plight of The Caregiver. And why self-care should be a caregiver’s priority

Healer's outstretched open hand surrounded by random wise healing words on a rustic stone effect background

“There are days I drop words of comfort on myself like falling leaves

and remember that it is enough to be taken care of by my self”

– Brian Andreas

Balancing Work and Live

Are you are in a position where another person’s wellbeing depends upon you? This might be your children, a sick or aging relative, your work or even just caring for your family. To be able to give adequate care for anyone in your sphere of influence, you must know how to take care of yourself first. If you are a mother with small children, or have a child with disabilities, or even an aged and infirm relative, how much time do you get for yourself? Are you aware of how you are really feeling? Or have your feelings and emotions been pushed into the background? Do you also work in any kind of professional capacity? Are you drawn from home and those you care for to also earn a wage? Yes? No?

Try the questions below

  • Do you make time for yourself?
  • What do you do in the time that is yours?
  • Do you ask for help when you need it?
  • Do you feel guilty that you are having time for yourself?
  • Do you have a support network?
  • How would you describe your coping skills?

These are really important questions to ask yourself because as a carer and provider of nourishment for yourself or others (whether it’s financial, emotional or spiritual), it’s all too easy to lose your identity. When this happens, when your own sense of self becomes unclear and your day has the sole purpose revolving around others, it is too easy for symptoms of anxiety, self-doubt, or unworthiness to start to show. Being over tired, not eating properly, having a poorly balanced day, ignoring or overriding your feelings, can lead to the slippery slope of anxiety or depression or illness.

So what are you going to do about it?

  • How can you change your life so that you can still care for others while looking after yourself?
  • How can you find time to work on your self-development?
  • You may make up excuses as to why you don’t have time but can you really afford not too?

Knowing the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and also knowing there is help available to you, is a step towards coping with and managing these conditions. Understanding your own mental, emotional and spiritual processes when under stress, or in crisis-mode, is also really important. In the healing process, acknowledging the individual, knowing that you need to work through each symptom thoroughly in order to bring about a healthy outcome will have you well on the way to having a balanced and positive out look life. These are tools, and once learned and understood can be added to your Toolkit.

Some Tips to Help with Self- care

  • Take care of yourself
  • Get regular exercise, gardening, walking, yoga or Tai Chi
  • Relaxation Meditation judithtehuia.com FREE e-course Learning to Meditate
  • Any thing that you love doing
  • Find a good listener
  • Seek professional help
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Do something just for you
  • Have your hair cut
  • Soak in the bath
  • Sit in the sun
  • Do nothing
  • Ask a friend to help
  • Never be afraid or ashamed to ask for help you are human not superhuman.
  • Talk to someone about how you are feeling, don’t bottle it up.
  • Meeting up with friends is vital
  • Keep up your interests to whatever extent you can.

In order for you to be of help to others you must come first.

A Note for Professional Carers

Working as a carer or nurse in any field, whether it be mental health, palliative care, aged care or intellectual disabilities, is very rewarding, but unless you are taking care of yourself you can so easily reach a stage of burnout. I cannot stress enough how important it is to take care of you. Skipping meals, working overtime, not enough sleep, no time for you, and stress levels too high are all too common in the caring industry. For our dedicated healthcare professionals I suggest the following:

  • Spend 5 minutes in the morning practising your breathing
  • Use your own personal relaxation techniques
  • In your break go for a walk
  • Make sure you eat a proper meal
  • Have a 20 minute nap
  • Drink lots of water
  • Do a short meditation
  • Personal Development
  • Take time out for yourself
  • Become responsible for your own health and wellness by creating an action plan
  • Listen to your body it will know what it needs

There is no shame in seeking help for yourself, in fact we should be doing it.

  • These things can make such a difference between having a healthy and balanced lifestyle and one that is teetering on the brink of illness. If you are on the ward there is often no time for a debrief when someone has passed away, or if you are dealing each day with someone dying, so how do you deal with the times when you need to take care of your other patients and their families?
  • When you are starting to feel overwhelmed, take a break, even if it is to go to the bathroom, or to get a drink of water. As I mentioned before, honour your feelings and thoughts, by ignoring them you will make yourself ill.
  • Know your limitations and vulnerabilities, as this will help you come up with coping strategies. If you need to have a cry, then go and have a cry.
  • Draw healing energy into your body and you do your breathing exercises, as this will allow your body to relax. Try not to take things personally.
  • Make time to see the unit manger and talk over your issues if you have any, or talk to a friend or seek professional help. Don’t always feel you need to do it on your own.
  • Use your affirmations, positive self-talk and allow yourself to grieve for your patients and their families.

  Carers you are a vital part of our caring environment—honour yourself and your work

Who cares for the carer? Unfortunately the answer to this question is no one. The only person, who can look after you, is you. When you do choose to take care of yourself, you will find, maybe to your own surprise, that there are people willing to help. Mentors, friends, a healthcare team, spiritual teachers, and whatever you require will be provided. All you need to do is speak up.

Carers are very special people so we need to help them take care of themselves.

Check out my FREE ONLINE MEDITAION COURSE judithtehuia.com and sign up for my newsletter.

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