By Kate Scheirman, MSW, LSW, Patient Health Advocate, and Lisa Bolt, AllOne Health
“There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.”
—Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter
Only when we first help ourselves can we effectively help others. Caring for yourself is one of the most important things you can do as a caregiver—and one of the most overlooked. When your needs are taken care of, the person you’re caring for will benefit, too.
However, caregivers often report concerns with managing their own well-being while also managing caregiving responsibilities. Concerns include sleep deprivation, poor eating habits, failure to exercise, and failure to take care of themselves when ill or make timely medical appointments for themselves.
While it’s important to take care of yourself first, we all know that’s easier said than done. Recognizing your limitations and looking for ways to ease your stress and build resiliency is critical.
Allow time to refuel with rest and relaxation, maintain a healthy diet, and take care of your own health. After all, your mood is very important to the person you are caring for, and providing the best care possible will be challenging if you are exhausted or stressed.
To move forward on your path to wellness, you must continually commit to authentic self-care that includes:
- Health-building activities, such as exercise, massage, yoga, meditation, eating healthy foods, drinking plenty of water
- Practicing the art of self-management: Just say no
- Developing a healthy support system with people who contribute to your self-esteem, listen well, and care about you.
- Organizing your life so you become proactive as opposed to reactive
- Reserving your life energy for worthy causes
Preparing for what’s next
Take steps to prepare for what might happen. When a situation becomes stressful, you will be able to make better decisions and options will be readily available. Being prepared will help you avoid falling into “analysis paralysis.”
Being prepared is often referred to as “common sense preparedness.” Just as athletes train and musicians practice, you can learn new skills, gain knowledge, and line up support that will help you remain level-headed, focused, and forward-thinking.
Your Assistance Program is here to help—providing access to information and referrals for mental health support, eldercare, housing, medical advocacy, estate planning, and more.
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