When we are the carer, we often lose sight of our own carer. Ourselves.
Perhaps you are the mother of a chronically sick child who is under a strict protocol of dietary requirements and supplements?
Or you spend your day chauffeuring your kids to and from school and extracurricular activities?
Do you have a child with a label such as ADHD or autism? Or is your parent showing signs of dementia or is already living with Alzheimer’s? Maybe you are a professional caregiver.
This is unlikely the first time someone has brought up the topic of the care of you. If you are reading this now, maybe it is time to seriously consider what care you have for yourself. Do you make sure you have as good a diet as the one you prepare for your children? Do you meditate or use the tools as much as you teach your clients? Do you have any me-time?
We are no good to others if we ourselves are running on an empty tank. Or more likely on adrenaline, which is not great news as the adrenals are getting depleted. Everyone needs to replenish and no less, those who are primary caregivers. Taking time for ourselves is not a selfish act.
Taking time for ourselves to ensure that we are nourished means we can be more present, emotionally available, and generally more resilient to take on the responsibility of caring for others. This is true whether you are a stay-at-home mom, a teacher, a nurse or in any capacity as a caregiver.
We have all been end of the line, where we are so fatigued that we can fall asleep standing up. Or so tired and wired that you just want to pull your hair out? Remember how irritable, impatient, and quick to anger you are when you are super stressed? Or maybe you withdraw? Do the same thoughts loop through endlessly in your mind? All this not only depletes us. It also affects our relationships and the general quality of our life.
Here are some suggestions that are simply and easily overlooked for caregivers and everyone alike. This is by no means a complete list but some starting points to think about your own care and incorporating your own ways. If your first thought reading this is that you don’t have time, then double your efforts to block out that time. If we cannot take five minutes to focus on our breathing, then that is five minutes we definitely need to take to focus on our breathing.
DRINK plenty of clean filtered water. Squeeze some lemon into it. Hydration is perhaps the simplest and most under talked health promoting activity.
SLEEP at a good hour, like 10PM. Make a habit of going to sleep and waking up the same time every night and every morning. Put away your smartphone and turn off the computer and TV as early as you can. Can you do that several hours before bedtime?
MOVE. Moving does not need to be in a gym. It can be a gentle walk after dinner. Have you always wanted to take up dancing? Go for it. Or just put on some earphones (if you cannot have the music) and move. This also means do not sit continuously. Try squatting as your natural resting position.
MEDITATE. Even closing your eyes and focusing on your breath for five minutes is great. Do what you can and build up from there. Breathing deeply and fully is good for our health. Drop your attention from your mind to your heart. Allow your chi to sink. Find your centre of gravity and balance. Find your quiet space.
FIND A HOBBY. Find something that is completely unrelated to your work or what you spend most of your time on. Get outside the box.
BE OKAY SAYING NO. This is about having good boundaries and knowing your own energy flow. Clear some space on your calendar for some me-time. Get comfortable asking for help.
DO NOTHING. Enjoy the sweetness of doing nothing. We have been taught the value of hard work and that time is money. There is something wonderful about doing absolutely nothing. Not everything that is productive is externally visible or obvious.
GET INTO NATURE. Maybe it is a picnic in the garden, a walk in the water at the beach, or going hiking. There is so much goodness here – the fresh air (if not fresh, at least not stagnant indoor air), connected to the earth and other elements, moving, and perhaps being alone with yourself.
TAKE A BATH. Or a foot bath with epsom or other types of salt. This is relaxing and cleans the energetic field.
SLOW DOWN when you eat. Give gratitude to everyone and everything that was involved in getting your food to your plate so you can nourish yourself with beautiful food. (And make your food as beautiful as you can. Bless it. Thank it.)
LIVE IN GRATITUDE. Gratitude is a renewing emotion. Depleting emotions cause biochemical changes in our body that are stress-inducing and we all know how chronic stress is not health-promoting.
JOURNAL. Leave your problems in a journal. Complaining is a depleting activity. Choose who you discuss your challenge with carefully. The energy, intention, and general approach of who you keep company with affects your emotional well-being.
CARE, NOT OVERCARE. Know the difference between balanced care and overcare, a concept from HeartMath™. When care becomes stressful, and feelings such as anger, frustration, and impatience arise, you have crossed over the fine line into overcare. Overcare depletes, feels heavy, and eventually leads to burnout and anxiety.
And let’s give yourself a hug and a pat on the back, you are doing a great job. You are doing the best you can. We all are.