#Self Care: Caring For Yourself As A Caregiver
Being a caregiver can be both rewarding and stressful. If you are a member of the Sandwich Generation you might relate more to the latter. Caring for both your elderly parents and your children (or children’s children) can take a toll on your mental, physical and emotional well being.
It is important that as a caregiver, you recognize the need to also care for yourself. If you use social media, you may be aware of the #SelfCare postings, which see people indulging in taking care of number one. With this in mind, we’ve put together a short guide on how to care for yourself as a caregiver.
Equip Yourself with the Right Knowledge/Tools
As someone who has to perhaps care for an aging parent physically, or support a child financially you are going to encounter some stresses and strains. The best way to tackle this is to equip yourself with the knowledge or tools to deal with a situation.
Should a parent fall ill, do your research and ask their doctor plenty of questions. The more prepared you are, the lower your stress levels.
If your child(ren) need help financially, set up an appointment at your bank and ask for some financial advice.
There are resources out there to equip you with the knowledge and tools you need to cope. This will help you look after your stress levels in the future.
Join A Group
Whilst it’s all well and good to try and prepare for these scenarios, oftentimes they can arise out of the blue. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, seek help. There are support groups in place for caregivers. Family Carers Ireland says their carer groups give carers the opportunity to:
“share their experiences, feelings, ideas, concerns, information and problems
access information on their rights and entitlements
act together to highlight carers issues with decision makers
have a sense of connection with other family carers in similar circumstances
have a break from the caring situation
relax, socialize and learn from other carers
cope from day to day”
Get Some Exercise
Taking time to yourself when you are a caregiver is very important. While it might seem as though you never get a minute to do anything for you, making that time is extremely important for your mental and physical well being. Exercise is known to improve both your mental and physical health.
A yoga class would be particularly beneficial for caregivers. According to the Mayo Clinic “Research has found that yoga may be beneficial in particular for caregivers. Studies indicate that caregivers who engage in a regular yoga practice enjoy lower stress levels and better physical well-being.”
Be Good to Yourself
It might seem obvious, but treating yourself with the respect you deserve is a massive part of caring for yourself as a caregiver. Acknowledge that the job you have is tough, it takes a person of great strength to care for others.
“Self-compassion means giving yourself credit for the tough, complex work of caregiving, stepping away from the self-critical, harsh inner voice, and allowing yourself time — even if it’s just a few minutes a day — to take care of yourself.” (Harvard Medical School).
In acknowledging your work and sacrifice, accept that you are within your rights to take time for yourself. Whether it’s going for a walk around the block, taking half an hour to watch your favourite TV show, indulging in a little retail therapy, or relaxing in a bath with a facemask, the great thing about self care is it’s specific to you.