Like Angels Among Us
It takes a very special person to provide care for another human being. Many of us did not choose this path as a career, rather it was thrust upon us when a family member or close friend became seriously ill. But as you provide care for another it becomes imperative that you also care for yourself.
In the Midst
For those who are in the midst of actively providing care for someone right now, here are a few suggestions:
- Once an hour, go outside into the fresh air for 5 minutes and just breathe, relax, and let go of any stress, pain, anger, frustration, and every other negative emotion you may be experiencing
- Find something to be grateful for (gratitude feeds your soul)
- Schedule 20 minutes for yourself to eat, away from everyone else if possible
Conserve Your Energy
As a caregiver, it’s natural to want to help everybody. And when you are serving in this capacity it’s common that everybody will notice your care and concern and bombard you with questions and requests for suggestions, tips, and general advice. Remember the object of your focus. You are there for the person you are caring for and for yourself. Those are your top two priorities and it is all right to tell others, “no.”
This allows you to conserve your energy and direct it in the direction that is most pressing and important at the current time. It’s okay to tell people to discuss it with their doctor or other healthcare professional (besides you). It may feel weird and uncomfortable at first — especially if you are not accustomed to saying “no” — but it will get easier for you. It will also help you to conserve your energy. Once you become burned out, you’re no help to your patient or to yourself.
Refill Your Cup
But what if you’re already burned out? What if you’re running on empty, feeling like you have nothing left to give, but you have to give anyway? If this describes you, you have to refill your cup, refresh your spirit, and restore your capacity to give. But how?
Initially, in whatever time you have available just for yourself, you have to practice extreme self-care.
We are so accustomed to giving that at times we forget that everyone must fulfill both ends of that equation: giver AND receiver. No matter how noble we make giving, you cannot be a giver unless there is someone there to receive, and no matter who you are, you are called upon to serve in BOTH capacities. There must be balance in all things and care giving is no exception.
Self-care is self-love. If you are not good to you, chances are no one else will be either. Your thoughts, words, and actions toward yourself form the template others use to learn how they should treat you. Combine that with the notion that the best person to assign a task to is a busy person, and it’s a setup for a setback…for you.
It’s not about taking large amounts of time for yourself; it’s about having moments that feed your spirit or your soul. It could be anything from sipping a cup of herbal tea to inhaling the aroma of a pure, therapeutic-grade essential oil (bergamot* is especially good because of its calming properties) to repeating the words “thank you” or “I love you” silently in your mind. These are such high energy words, that eventually you will begin to feel a shift in your stress level and an elevation in your mood.
You need to exercise every day. I’m not talking about an hour in the gym or running 5 miles. If you have the time, health, and stamina for that, great, do it. Otherwise, I am suggesting about 2 minutes of your time in the early morning hours, preferably outside in the fresh air. Focus on the 8’s: 8 sit-ups, 8 pushups, 8 jumping jacks, and 8 squats. That’s it!
However, if that seems a bit too much like a high school gym class to you, Qi Gong may be a better fit. It is an ancient practice consisting of a series of gentle movements that focus on the proper flow of energy, called qi or chi, through the body. There are countless videos on PBS, YouTube, Amazon Prime, and just about every other video media platform. Most have an A.M. version that is approximately 7 or 8 minutes in length.
Regardless of which activity you choose, your goal is to get the energy flowing inside your body.
Prayer works, pure and simple. So pray for yourself every day and get yourself on someone else’s prayer list. If you don’t know anyone to ask to pray for you, fill out the contact form with your prayer request and I will add you to my prayer list.
Find Your Tribe
We all need someone to talk to and confide in. Find that person or group who can be that for you. It may be a group of other caregivers, a trusted friend, or a therapist. Whichever feels right for you is the best place to start.
Thank you for all that you do. You are a gift to all those you care for. Be well.
© 2017. [Update of a 2008 post]. SandraBiz.com. All Rights Reserved.