If you are caring for an aging family member, or if you are a professional caregiver tasked with the welfare and wellbeing of your clients, you know how daily demands can leave you depleted with little or no time for yourself. Chances are you have children of your own which only compounds responsibilities and adds pressure, further diminishing the time for any self-care.
If self-care is such a novel thought, perhaps you’ve been in your current role for months or years. You may be so habituated to the world being about others you’ve lost sight of how important it is to give yourself a break, that is, in the realm of treating yourself to the things that make you feel happy, restored and more like you! (Remember you?!)
Because the new year is fresh and, well, still new, why not consider the following resolutions to help improve your relationship with someone very important in your life—even if you haven’t had time to consider that yet. Of course, that someone is you:
- I resolve not to be critical of myself when I don’t do something right, or well, or even fail to come up with an action or solution to a problem in the first place. I will remember I am human—not a machine—and allowed to live a less-than-perfect life without feelings of guilt, impatience or anger at myself.
- I will explore ways to give to myself, even if I only allocate five minutes a day to this task, until I have come up a list of fun, exciting, rejuvenating things I can do. These can range from taking a brisk, energizing walk a few times a week with a neighbor, taking a yoga or art class or just making time each night to draw or paint, making an appointment for a massage (and keeping it!), booking time each month at a hair and nail salon, getting my teeth cleaned and a dental check-up, attending a movie with a good friend, date night with my significant other, shutting the door to decompress for a while at the end of each day and getting lost in a great book, etc.
- When things start to overwhelm me, I resolve to take a big step back and make a list of what I can vs. cannot control in these circumstances—whether it is about my care receiver, children, spouse, employer, etc. This can be written down, which often provides clarity, or at least I can make a mental list if that option is not available to me right away. I will then let go of what I cannot control, which removes cluttered, panicked thinking, leaving room to take constructive steps toward what I can control.
- I will establish boundaries. Caregiving involves an unrelenting investment of time, resources, and mental and physical energy. But I will take a step back and, without guilt, say no to something I simply cannot add to my plate without jeopardizing my own wellbeing. This may be challenging at first, as doing so involves “training” people who have always prevailed upon me not to over-ask, and tantamount to that training myself to understand what I’m doing is not selfish but rather self-affirming. But if I stick with it, it will become quite comfortable—my new normal.
- Though it may sound Pollyannaish, I will practice focusing at least a few minutes a day on the positive people and events around me—expressing gratitude for them—not dwell on what’s frustrating, frightening or disappointing. I will choose to focus on progress and achievements, other people’s and mine, and applaud the effort that goes into journey even if the final results are not perfect or up to my expectations.
“Remembering You! Five New Year’s Resolutions for Family and Professional Caregivers,” written by Beth Herman, Amada blog contributor.