When You Care, How to Care for You, Too


When You Care, How to Care for You, Too

AppleIt's the advice you hear often: “You have to take care of yourself.”

It's also the advice that may drive you nuts. Because the struggles involved in caring for your caree can leave little energy for you to do what's required in caring for yourself.

Caregiving can feel like a constant choice. How can you choose what you need if it seems to take away from what your family member needs? How can you choose to take time for your own health when someone's health needs are much more critical?

When you care for another with chronic health problems, you may feel like you're constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. It can feel so hard to be proactive because it can be so hard to predict what's next.

The difference in your self-care is that you can be proactive. You can set intentions about your eating and exercise habits and your stress-management techniques. Self-care is an intentional action which requires your attention.

Each Thursday, I post a self-care plan just for you, giving you three days to consider your goals for your following week. You create your goals, write them down and then sign the care plan—it's your commitment to yourself.

Because caregiving can consume your life and your thoughts, these care plans focus on what you need. And, you need to be healthy, for today and for your tomorrows.

Yesterday, I wrote about understanding your limits. When you understand your limits and their importance, you see that you have needs, which means you can understand how to take care of yourself. You also get that, in caregiving, it's not an “either/or” situation (either you care for your caree or you care for yourself). It's an “and.” You can care for a family member and take care of yourself.

Self-care involves good food choices and regular exercise. But that's only part of your self-care plan. It's also about stopping for breaks, embracing forgiveness, giving yourself a chance to find a perspective that comforts you. It's about saying “Enough” when you've reached the end, either in your day, difficult relationships or responsibilities beyond your current capability.

It's also about purposeful activities and relationships, which remind you of life in a time that feels like half-way between life and death. It's about giving yourself chances to start over, to begin again with tasks, relationships and responsibilities. It's about understanding that the most serious times of our lives require the most amount of laughter.

With self-care, you understand your heart requires love and your soul needs encouragement. And, knowing that, you regularly reach for what gives you love and encouragement. Self-care is about asking for and receiving help, for both your caree and yourself.

Self-care sounds like what you do. It's really about how you live. It's living with clear intentions that feed your body, mind and soul.


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