You’re a family caregiver trying to do everything. Chances are good that in addition to your caregiving responsibilities, you have a family to care for; a job to go to; and hopefully a life to live. And as a family caregiver, you find that you’re short on time; you’re frustrated and you’re exhausted to boot. And you feel like you’re on a runaway train. Sound familiar?
To top it off, you keep hearing from professionals that you need to take care of YOU! Do you want to scream when you hear these words? Do you wonder if anyone has EVER walked in your shoes? I get it. It used to infuriate me when someone would tell me to take care of me…as if I didn’t know I was supposed to do that. But you know what? I did take breaks. I did get a massage from time to time. I did get away for short amounts of time and I did get professionals to help out. But NONE of that helped because SELF CARE is not about a massage or a facial or having coffee with a friend or even a tropical vacation!
Real self care is far more complicated, and until you learn the basic principles and start applying them slowly to your life, nothing is ever going to change. Self care begins inside and often it brings up yucky stuff that we don’t want to look at. I sure didn’t, but then one day, I fell down the rabbit hole; and it was then that I had to start thinking differently if I ever wanted to get out. Self Care starts with your outlook on life and how you DECIDE to treat yourself. It starts with you. It’s only when you make a decision to respect yourself, your body, your emotions, your spirit, your time and your life that you will know the meaning of true self care.
People who practice this way of living are peaceful. They seldom “lose it!” They rarely let life get the best of them, and because they place such high value on themselves, they have learned to flow. By the way…full disclosure here – I am a Self Care Coach and I still struggle with this, because I’m human. And being human causes me to falter and make mistakes and doubt myself and push back when I really should be flowing.
Caregiving actually taught me how to Care for ME. I had never done it before. My life was about trying to be perfect and in control and then I met caregiving and I very quickly learned that neither of those traits was going to serve me any longer. What a wake-up call.
The 10 things you need to do to get out of overwhelm and taking back control of your life are:
1. Personal boundary setting
2. How to say NO without screaming your head off
3. How to ask for help with grace and humility
4. How to show up and accept that you aren’t always going to be perfect!
5. How to laugh at yourself and at the stuff life throws our way. Truthfully, laughter will change your whole outlook on life and it’s contagious.
6. How to get up when you fall down and yes…shake it off.
7. How to speak those we perceive to be in authority without being intimidated.
8. How to accept that your personal best was not always going to be the same.
9. How to stop beating yourself up if you make a mistake.
10…and finally…how to embrace and love your own personal uniqueness.
Self care is about acceptance and flow and it can be yours too. The challenge for you is making a decision that your self care matters…that YOU MATTER and only when you take small steps towards true self care will you begin to see and live the difference.
Cindy Laverty is affectionately called The Fairy Godmother of Caregiving. She is a caregiver coach, author, speaker and advocate for family caregivers. She is the Founder of The Care Company, an online website dedicated to helping caregivers navigate the journey through caregiving. Visit her site and download your free copy of Cindy’s Top 100 Caregiver Tips.