How Self-Care Helps You Care for Others
It’s easy to suffer from burnout as a caregiver. Constantly giving of yourself to care for others can quickly deplete the resources you need to care for yourself. When you neglect caring for yourself, you get run-down, and sometimes resentful of others for taking too much of your time. Self-care is essential to both maintaining your self-esteem and in being able to care for others.
Self-care is about taking good care of ourselves and our own feelings so that we feel good about ourselves and have healthy levels of self-esteem and self-worth. In doing this, it gives us the emotional strength that it takes to care for others, showing them love and empathy, without diminishing ourselves.
Caring for Yourself
Self care isn’t hard, you just need to make the time for it. In addition to the obvious basics of caring for yourself, such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and making sure you are getting enough sleep, there are many other things you can do to bolster your self-esteem, self-worth, and self-respect so that you have the energy and ability to share that strength by helping others. And helping others makes you feel good about yourself, so by making sure you are giving yourself the care you need, caregiving in itself can be a form of self-care.
Give Yourself Some Alone Time
Another way to improve your self-care is to spend some time with just yourself. Find a quiet room, close the door and lock out life for a little while. Don’t worry about who’s going to pick up your kid from soccer practice, or about getting dinner on the table, or even about the fact that you are hosting your book club meeting in a couple of hours and you haven’t read the book. Just carve a little time out of every day — or every few days — and spend it with yourself. Listen to some music. Take a long, relaxing bubble bath. Sit in an empty room in the dark and do nothing if you want. Practice not thinking about your troubles and just think about what you are going to do for yourself to relieve some stress from your everyday routine.
Learn to Say No
An important thing to do when practicing self-care is setting boundaries with others in your life. Just because someone asks you to do them a favor doesn’t mean that you have to say yes. Learn to say no when you need to. Someone who knows you well enough to ask a favor most likely will not be angry with you for standing your ground. If they do get miffed, they will get over it. Never take blame, or think you are being selfish when you need to say no to someone’s request. Learning to deflect negative emotions like that will contribute to your ability to be able to say yes in the future.
Put Yourself First
It’s important to take the time to put yourself first when trying to manage the pressures of your life, especially if you are a full-time caregiver. Get a massage. Catch up on your reading. Do something with the time you would have spent doing something for somebody else. When you do things like that, you are practicing self-care and showing yourself that you are worthy of taking time out of your day, just for you.