Self-Care for Caregivers

Posted on November 12, 2023 by Published by

Problems arise when we caregivers consistently put the needs of others before our own needs. We take care of everyone else in our lives but tend to think it would be selfish to care for ourselves.

Working Your Way Through

Caregivers are like teapots, constantly giving of ourselves, filling the “teacups” of the sick, the dying, the grieving, and all the people in need at work and at home. As our teapot is filling the cups of all these individuals, it eventually runs dry.

Compassion fatigue

Compassion fatigue is what we are left with when we drain our teapots dry, time and time again. We give and give of ourselves until we have nothing left to give, and, yet we keep giving. We become totally rained and exhausted, and we’re affected physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, and spiritually.

What is a caregiver to do?

We begin by changing the way we think about our caregiving.

  1. Acknowledge the fact that you are affected. Welcome to the human race. You are not Superman or Superwoman.
  2. Understand that we cannot properly care for others until we properly care for ourselves. We cannot give what we do not have.
  3. Realize that taking care of ourselves, “self-care,” is not selfish. It is essential to living a healthy, productive life.
  4. Commit to self-care as a healthy lifestyle and not simply an “in case of emergency” measure. This doesn’t happen overnight or by accident. We need to purposely schedule things every day that refresh, rejuvenate, refuel, and revive us.
  5. Continually learn more about taking effective care of yourself. Read books about self-care, try new things to relax and refuel.

Dr. Judy Pierson is a licensed psychologist in private practice. She suggests that since compassion fatigue can affect us physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, and spiritually, we should think about how we can refuel in each of these areas.

Physically: Participate in light exercise, get a massage, rest, try deep breathing, and eat nutritious foods.

Mentally: Write in a journal, visualize yourself in a soothing place, read an interesting book, listen to music, and use positive affirmations.

Emotionally: Find safe ways to vent your emotions. You express your feelings with family, friends, or coworkers who listen, talk with a counselor, cry, scream into a pillow, or write about your emotions.

Socially: Make time for pleasing social activities, take a class, indulge in a hobby, and connect with people who share your interests.

Spiritually: Connect with nature, connect with God, read inspirational material, pray, or talk with a spiritual guide.

Take heart. The caregiving that you do is important and valuable work. The patients, clients, and loved ones you take care of need you to be the best you can be…and so do you. Take time every day to refuel for them and for you.

Excerpt taken from Self-Care for Caregivers CareNote by Ralph P. Plumley, Th.M., C.T

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