How can you properly care for others if you don’t take time to care for yourself? This questions resonates in the hearts and minds of those in the role of family caregiver on a daily basis.
Whether it is a child with special needs, an elderly parent unable to walk or your spouse stricken with a disease or life changing accident that now requires constant care, as a family care giver you must make the time to care for yourself just as you care for others. All too frequently care givers share, “I rarely think of my needs or myself. The needs of my loved one supersedes my own.”
What you can do for yourself is bring your needs to the foreground. You must accept that it does not make you selfish, but instead allowed you to stay mentally healthy not only for yourself, but for your loved one as well. Here are a few tips on how to help yourself take care of your special needs.
Educate yourself about your loved one special needs. Knowledge provides understanding. You will find the more you learned about your loved one special needs, the more confident and equipped you are to help cope, handle situations, and advocate. You in turn become a more effective caregiver.
Consider therapy for yourself. You need to be as healthy as you can for your loved one. You can feel a whole range of emotions–anger, fear, and uncertainty among them. Your emotions are normal.
Get support. Develop or join a network of family care givers for your particular need.
Or, ask your resources for ideas or contacts. Many family caregivers share that they often feel isolated and this is a great way to build a network of people willing to help.
Ask for help. Tell your spouse/partner/significant other and friends how you feel. You are
the primary caregiver, and sometimes the situation can become emotionally and physically taxing. Others probably don’t have any idea how you are feeling just a caring listening ear.
Let it out. Stress hormones, found in tears, negatively affect every system and organ in the human body. Crying provides health by eliminating harmful stress hormones. Haven’t you found that you feel relief after a good cry?
Give yourself personal time. Walk, write in a journal, or participate in an activity you enjoy. Every day.
Take care of you. Make sure you are eating foods that are healthy, drinking plenty of water, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep.