Caring for someone can be very challenging. When most of your time is spent focusing on someone else, it can leave you feeling like you have no time for your well-being. This juggling of responsibilities can quickly lead to feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
Stepping away from your caring duties to focus on you is not selfish; it’s a necessity for yourself and the loved one you care for because it will allow you to relax and recharge your batteries. Your cup needs to be as complete as possible so that you have the energy and patience to meet the needs of your loved ones and family.
Here are some things you can do to care for yourself
Take 10 minutes
If you’ve been prioritizing the needs of others ahead of your well-being for a long time, it can feel challenging to stop and do something for yourself. That’s okay because you can focus on yourself in little steps. Perhaps start by taking ten minutes each day to have a cup of tea and take a few deep breaths. Or, if you can, go for a ten-minute walk to get some fresh air.
Allow yourself to feel everything
Caregiving is a deeply felt experience. It can bring up compassion, joy, love, anger, resentment, and sometimes guilt. Every emotion you experience is valid – even the negative feeling ones, like caregiver guilt. This feeling might manifest when you feel like the person you care for takes up all your time and life, which is why you need me-time now and again. You might also experience a form of guilt where you don’t think you’re doing enough, which can be equally as challenging. Whatever you are feeling, allow it to come and go. Don’t try and change the emotion, but recognize it for what it is, and reflect on where it is coming from. What can you do to help yourself at that moment?
Physical self-care is essential
Physical care of your body is vital for maintaining your emotional and mental well-being. Often the best way to manage a difficult situation is by going back to the basics with balanced meals, plenty of sleep, moving your body, and finding moments to relax. Taking up a hobby like yoga is a great way to care for both your mind and body and is a perfect excuse for having half an hour to yourself as well.
Talk to people
Sometimes we feel like we have to do it all by ourselves – but you don’t have to. Asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of, so reach out to someone you trust and share the burden if things feel overwhelming. This human connection is good for your mental health and allows you to sort through your feelings and hopefully gain a new perspective. Your loved one(s) might be able to help support you more, so you have more capacity in your caring role. Asking for help and talking to people (including carers services) is a sign of strength.