Take Care of You First
“It might seem selfish to be a caregiver taking care of yourself first, but it was like flight attendants say: ‘Put your own oxygen mask on first.’ Then I was available to be a really supportive caregiver.”
I’ve talked many times about caring for yourself first - it’s even more important when caring others - whether family members or patients. Experience tells me - it’s a must, and I am mentioning it once again for two reasons:
I was a psychologist and counseled people experiencing grief, loss, and stress. I thought I was ready to take on the caregiver role. Silly me!!! It didn’t take long to figure out how wrong that thinking was and what it honestly took to survive in such situations.
At the time, I didn’t realize that self-care should focus on physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual health. I would take a broader approach now.
When I googled self-care activities, there were over two and a half billion hits in 39 seconds.
Let’s look at one website and how a short list of strategies worked for me.
Journaling was a lifesaver for me. I wrote daily.
I was mindful to a degree, but I needed to make a more signficant effort.
Listening to music
Dan had hearing loss and tinnitus but refused to wear hearing aids. We needed quiet.
Going for a walk
There was no one to watch him, so when I went for any walk, I had to keep an eye on him - the app on my phone was helpful.
Reading or trying a creative project
I couldn’t concentrate, nor did I have the time or energy.
Limiting screen time
I monitored what was on television. Dan was confused and thought what was happening on the news was happening in our neighborhood.
Cuddling with a fur baby
We had cats for years. Then Dan wanted to get rid of them. What worked well was an electronic therapy dog.
Attending a creative performance
If I took Dan with me, he could to be disruptive. If I went with a friend, who would watch him?
There were possible tips in this video.
The website, Caring for the Caregiver also offers various ideas.
Take a look at the suggestions. Test the ones that sound promising, and make a list of the helpful ones. You may need to revise the list over time, however.
What worked for me was journaling and reading everything I could about ways to manage situations that arose. We made jigsaw puzzles and took walks together. Sometimes, someone I trusted stayed with him. Then I could have time by myself.
Online forms are available now. I would use them.
Action Plan Worksheets - having a plan and identifying helpful actions could have eased my burden.
Self-Care Assessments - having a broader self-care approach would have been helpful. I did reasonably well with physical and spiritual self-care but could have done better with emotional and psychological self-care.
Lists of Self-Care Activities- sometimes, we run out of ideas or get stuck in ones that don’t work. It’s good to have an active list of possibilities.
Being a caregiver was the most demanding, draining job I ever had. I aim to provide information and solutions to wearing situations that make it easier for you.
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