Caring for the Caregiver
Very few of us live in a bubble, where the only person we have to care for is ourselves. Instead, there is a certain time in our lives when we find ourselves at the center of a web.
From there, our care for others radiates out. Our compassion goes to the generation below us; our children, and all the love that comes with it. We care for sneezes, wheezes, celebrate their homework success and commiserate when they miss out on something they wanted.
Then that compassion goes up a generation; reaching a stage where we are the center of the web, looking after both our parents and our children. It’s a time of life that few of us relish, with responsibilities going in every direction.
And That’s Okay
Most of us would agree with the above proclamation: it’s okay to have to care for so many people at once. We do it selflessly because it’s all part of having a family and being a vital, integral part of that. We parent without even thinking about it; it is innate, something we want to do and are compelled towards. And we care for our aging parents in exactly the same way, showing them the same consideration they showed us when we were raised.
To not juggle these generational caring capabilities is something most of us would never consider. It’s all part of the deal, and we accept it willingly.
One of the biggest issues that tend to come into play when caring for others is that we miss out on caring for someone important. This person falls into the background, forgotten in the midst of offering support to those around us. And that person? It’s you.
Good Caring Starts With Self-Care
The principle of self-care is a simple one. It just means taking the time to look after yourself, both regarding physical health and how you’re doing mentally.
If you think that’s preposterous and you don’t have time to care for yourself along with all of your other responsibilities – well, that’s a problem. It’s a problem because if you malfunction – so to speak – the standard of care you can offer to others is going to slip. Realistically, caring for yourself is the only way of ensuring long-term support for those in your family.
So What Should You Do?
- Try and make time for yourself at least once a week. This might mean using a childminder for your kids, or elder care for your parents – so you can feel comfortable knowing those you look after are safe. In that knowledge, you can then focus a bit more on yourself.
- Use that time to meditate; take a hot bath; go for a run or just sit and read a book.
- Keep on top of your own health conditions. Don’t let appointments slide or prescriptions run out; see a doctor when you need to.
- Give yourself a break – mentally and literally. Sometimes you might need to admit you’re stressed and worried, so write those feelings down by way of venting them.