Caregiving isn't for the faint of the heart. It's hard work. One of the most important aspects of caring for others (and often the toughest) is to remember to care for yourself first. Many caregivers report a loss of "self" after time in the field - it's a tough part of any caregiver job.
If you're feeling like you haven't taken time for yourself lately or if caregiving is starting to take a toll, here are a few tips to help combat it:
- Exercise. A brisk walk or workout with a friend is truly an amazing dose of medicine and energy.
- Go the doctor or visit the dentist. Basically, get healthy. It's an emerging trend for caregivers to forget the basics of their own health. Schedule that appointment!
- Talk. Just like your patients or clients need your ear, you need someone to have yours. Grab a friend and a cup of coffee and just talk.
- Learn. The more you know, the less on-the-job stress you're likely to incur.
- Get Creative. Release tension by creating something for yourself or a loved one.
The most important aspect of caring for yourself is to listen. Let your mind and body guide you towards what you need. Some people need very little down time to refresh and energize while others need more time (hint: we ALL need a dental appointment after 6 months). Caregivers are most effective at work by being grounded and centered. Yes, it's easier said than done. However, it's something to continually strive for, especially in caregiving.