The word caregiving seems to say it all, indicating altruism, selflessness and maybe a lack of reciprocity. After all, it’s not called caregetting.
The National Alliance For Caregiving estimates that 43.5 million American adults have provided unpaid care to a adult or child in 2015. Many of these caregivers report emotional and financial strain.(1)
I have seen amazing people do this job with smiles on their faces. I have seen them give from a part of themselves that is so deep that it inspired me to do better and be better.
I have also seen that everyone has a limit.
When you are in the profession of full-time care for someone who is ill or disabled, often the first thing to go is self-care practices. Exhaustion sets in. Frustration sets in.
But you’re not allowed to feel these things a caregiver. Right?
You are a human being first. You are a caregiver second. The business of caring can make the first point too easy to forget.
Hospice and family care physician Dr. Karen M. Wyatt wrote, “many of us who are drawn to become caregivers are very good at taking care of others and not so good at caring for ourselves. We have learned that it feels good to give and we excel at it, deriving satisfaction and meaning from our own acts of love toward other people.”(2)
Here are four suggestions to help you keep your health as a priority if you are a caregiver, while you accomplish the many tasks that you need to on a given day.
1) Make movement work for your body.
I do understand that not everyone has the time to go to an exercise class. However, when I learned how to do Thai massage, my teacher informed us that we must always feel good in our bodies when we are working on others. The quality of the massage would be affected (and obviously the quality of my future body).
Consider this principle as you are lifting things throughout the day. Try not to rush. Take your time to align your body and move from your core. If it is not an appropriate movement for your body, there is no harm in asking for help.
2) Sit better.
1) Caregiving in the US 2015. National Alliance For Caregiving. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
2) Tips For Staying Healthy While Being A Caregiver For Someone Else. The Huffington Post. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
3) Nair S, Sagar M, Sollers J, Consedine N, Broadbent E, Do slumped and upright postures affect stress responses? A randomized trial. Health Psychol. 2015 Jun;34(6):632-41. doi: 10.1037/hea0000146. Epub 2014 Sep 15.
4) 5 Ways To Care For Yourself While Caring For A Loved One. Harvard Health Publications. Retrieved on 16 November 2016.