TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF while caring for others, easy to say hard to do. We know how dedicated our caregivers are to our patients and that they are passionate about the care they deliver. The same is true for you and how you look out for your own family and friends. As a caregiver, every day is filled with a long “to-do” list that can seem overwhelming. While attending to that list, keep the questions below in mind when you start to feel depleted. It is exactly at that moment you need to (1) Stop, (2) Take a deep breath, and (3) Self-check to see what you are missing.
These questions are a gentle reminder that you must put your oxygen mask on first before you can truly be of help to someone else.
- Did I get enough sleep? If not, try to find moments to rest or recharge throughout your day. Take a break, listen to a song, stretch or do some exercises, or eat something nutritious. And plan to go to sleep earlier tonight!
- Am I thirsty or hungry? Sometimes you are so busy taking care of the daily needs of others, you put yourself on the back burner or forget to eat and drink when you need to. Have water with you throughout the day to stay hydrated. Have nutritious snacks on hand if your schedule is full and you think your mealtime will be delayed. Never skip meals.
- Do I feel isolated or lonely? Caregivers are moving so fast sometimes, no one can catch a hold of them to offer support or comfort. Be sure to make time for hugs, smiles, and laughter. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or even just a shoulder to lean on for a moment. You deserve it and those who know and love you are happy to do it. Don’t deprive them of the opportunity to let you know how much they care about you.
- Am I neglecting my health? When was the last time you saw your doctor, planned a good meal, exercised, or took your vitamins? If the answer is one you’d rather not admit, then it’s time to get that on the calendar!
- Am I comfortable? Changes in temperature, body position, physical environment, and mood can have a huge impact on how you feel. If you can alter one uncomfortable aspect, you can change your whole experience to a more pleasant one.
At the end of the day — or, more importantly, throughout the day — what you are doing (or NOT doing) to take care of yourself matters more than you realize. Answering these questions can make all the difference to you and the ones you love. Take the time…you’re worth it.