The Key to Caregiving – Care for Yourself First!
You’ve probably heard the adage—you’ve got to place the oxygen mask on yourself before you can help someone else. That couldn’t be more true than in the case of caregivers, charged with looking after others, whether by profession or necessity.
Fact is you’ve got to stay healthy to give your loved one or client the care and attention he/she deserves, and summer’s slower pace is perfect to take a little time for YOU. Resting, relaxing and recharging aren’t just words encouraging escape from daily activities—they’re crucial to physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
In fact, a recent study by the Atlantic Center for Population Health Sciences titled, “The Health Status of Caregivers” revealed:
- 7% of caregivers reported poor or fair health while caregiving, compared with 6.2% reporting poor or fair health prior to caregiving;
- 9% of caregivers reported depression, compared with 6.9% of the general population;
- Caregivers often delay self-care; 50% of those surveyed said they postpone their own health-related visits due to caregiving issues;
- Caregivers reported exercise, eating, entertainment, shopping and spirituality as their top coping behaviors.
Remember, your own self-care ensures your loved one’s continued care, and can come about in the smallest moments — it doesn’t have to be a day-long production. Something as seemingly small as picking a handful of wildflowers, a whiff of a favorite scent (try lavender for calming, lemon for energizing) or a simple mindfulness exercise (sit down, close your eyes and focus on your breath to a count of four while inhaling, four while exhaling) can make a world of difference in just a few seconds.
On a larger scale, a day at the beach, that long-overdue pedicure or heaping bowl of ice cream for dinner can be the perfect way to allow and provide yourself what you need. At first, caring for yourself this way might seem strangely self-indulgent, but believe us, it’s not—it promotes your own well-being and overall spiritual, emotional and physical health. What could be more important?
So no matter how large or small an act, make today the day you do something JUST FOR YOU! You have earned it!