Effective ways to care for yourself while caring for others
Caring for a loved one through illness, loss, addiction or temporary sickness often means we are putting our own self-care on hold. Our loved one needs medication or a ride to an appointment and we are there for them. They hurt and are in pain and need someone to listen to their complaints and we are there. They need a meal or a bath and we are there. Their home needs cleaning and pets need to be cared for and we are there. There is no end to the love and support we provide for those we love.
Repeated behavior such as this can cause depression, loneliness, aggravation and, in time, even resentment. Therefore, we must care for ourselves first before caring for others. Especially if the loved one you are caring for is consumed with the journey they are on and does not often appreciate or communicate their gratitude to you. This can cause you emotional pain and make you feel physically drained. Your feelings may be hurt or your heart may feel heavy as you watch your loved one suffer. This can drain all your energy and time and give you nothing in return. This is why it is important to care for yourself when caring for a loved one.
One really important thing you can do to start caring for yourself is to get plenty of quality sleep every night. Here are 7 tips:
- Make sure you have a quiet place to sleep. This might mean sleeping in a separate room from your partner for the time being.
- Find a place to unwind. If you are living with the loved one you are caring for, unwind before bed and prepare for uninterrupted sleep.
- Care for yourself first and don’t feel guilty. We can be better caregivers when we take care of ourselves first.
- Hire evening help to achieve quality sleep. If hiring help is not financially possible, seek help from your family, friends and/or community. These groups are usually willing to help and a little will go a long way to provide you with time to practice self-care while providing your loved one with things they need while you are gone.
- Ask for help. Asking for help gives friends and family the opportunity to show their love as well. When we do everything ourselves, we take away the chance for others to love us. Don’t take that away from them even if it is something as small as bringing in your mail.
- Resist the urge to use electronics before bedtime. Checking in on social media, laptops, emails or TV before bedtime is over stimulating before bed. These devises should be put away at least one hour before bed. The light from all these devices re-stimulates the brain and delays healthy sleep patters from forming.
- When it is time to rise, breathe deeply. Rise from bed and reawaken the body with gentle stretches and begin your day refreshed.
This article was written for the many people out there caring for a loved one. What you are doing is exhausting, loving and kind. You are an amazing person and you deserve to care for yourself! Don’t feel guilty, feel refreshed! More articles coming on self-care soon, so practice and be well.