Caregivers guide to selfcare
Care giving is a sacred experience for many and yet it can feel burdensome for others. Though mostly it is a spectrum of emotions that one goes through throughout their journey of care giving, everyone has their individual experience as a care giver.
Being a primary care giver can take a toll on your physical, mental, emotional and financial wellbeing. While one tries to do their best for their loved one, the care giver themselves can feel isolated and burdened with responsibility that they may or may not be prepared for.
Sharing my own personal experience as a care giver, I can say that it has been a roller coaster ride for me. As much as I am grateful to have had the opportunity to care for my mother and spend time with her, it also made me feel like I was cut off for a while from the outside (so called normal) World. It felt like my freedom was suddenly taken away from me.
I went through episodes of depression, anxiety and anticipatory grief (grieving the impending loss). What helped me though was a very strong support system. I was very beautifully supported by my extended family and friends in many ways. And of course, I cannot undermine the impact therapy had on me. I learnt many new coping skills and explored feelings of fear and anxiety that came with seeing my loved one suffer.
While I was determined to care for my mother in every way I could, I also realized that I needed some care for my own wellbeing. I needed to feel connected to myself and feel a semblance of the normal that I knew of. So here I am sharing a few pointers about self-care for care givers.
1. Alone time - Having sometime to process your feelings or just to rest, can have a positive impact on care givers. It helps to allow yourself to unwind. As a care giver, you are constantly doing something or the other. Alone time will give you the chance to just be.
2. Socialize - It is important to meet as much as you can with friends and family and build connections. Getting a bit of time to focus on having fun with others will help you feel a sense of normalcy in your life.
3. Follow your passion - While you invest most of your time in taking care of your loved one, it can feel consuming and you may wonder about your lager purpose. Following your passion, whether it is work or a hobby or a physical activity, will keep you connected to your sense of self.
4. Consciously relax your system - Care giving can be a highly stressful job with requiring you to be alert for any mishaps. It becomes very important then to Consciously learn to relax your nerves. You can consider meditation, yoga, vegal nerve stimulation, deep breathing and other forms of exercises that focus on slowing down your system even for a little while. It will give you down time and help you carry on the task of taking care of the needs of your loved ones.
5. Ask for help - It can be very challenging to do everything on your own. You may think that nobody else can do the job better than you of taking care of your loved one. This can leave you feeling exhausted and depleted. Asking for help from family, friends or even health care providers can make your job easier and can give you the time to take care of yourself too.
Caregiving is hard and following some of the tips mentioned above can help you ease the process. Even when you are responsible for somebody else, remember you are also responsible for your own wellbeing.