Self care is an important part of life as the stressors of daily living can be exhausting. Those stressors can be extra tiring for caregivers who are not only responsible for taking care of themselves but also loved ones. Here are some reasons why self care is so important for caregivers and simple ways caregivers can take care of themselves.
Why is self care so important?
Caregiving can be physically and emotionally exhausting. It’s important to recharge your batteries to avoid stress-related issues such as irritability, fatigue, sleep problems, weight gain, feelings of hopelessness and social isolation. All of these are potential symptoms of burnout, which you can work toward avoiding through adequate and intentional self care.
Why do caregivers not take care of themselves?
Caregivers often forget to take care of themselves because they’re so busy taking care of others. They can neglect their own emotional, physical and spiritual needs. There are two common causes of this: 1) Role confusion: sometimes caregivers are thrust into their role and find it difficult to separate from their simultaneous roles as spouse, child or parent.
2) Unrealistic expectations: Caregivers can sometimes place unreasonable burdens on themselves and see caregiving as their sole responsibility, or the person being cared for may make unreasonable demands.
What are some simple ways caregivers can take care of themselves?
Self compassion: Be kind to yourself, give yourself credit for the hard and taxing work of caring and step away from the guilt of feeling selfish for taking care of yourself.
Breath awareness: whether it be through yoga, tai chi, meditation or simple breathing relaxation techniques. Do one of these for at least ten minutes a day.
Staying healthy: Make sure you’re maintaining an adequate diet and sleep schedule and making that maintenance a priority.
Social Connection: Sometimes the responsibilities of caregiving can take up a lot of time, but making and keeping social appointments is important for maintaining connections, feeling less isolated and preventing burnout.
You are not alone: here are others going through similar experiences. Consider joining a support group for caregivers through local organizations.