You’re away at sea. The deep blue ocean is all you know, and it’s all you can see. Suddenly, you notice a hole at the bottom of your boat. You’re afraid the boat may sink. What do you do? Panic, of course. But what do your survival instincts tell you? Put your own life jacket on and then, assist others. The best caregiver tips make sure you’re better prepared to care for others. Helping yourself first must come first. Only then are you physically and emotionally able to look after others as a caregiver, but it’s something we often forget to do.When you’re looking after others, you forget to look after yourself. You forget to take care of yourself because you’re putting their needs before your own. It’s normal to do this, but it’s also important to look after yourself; this is what makes you look after others more effectively. Ever found yourself nibbling on crumbs of leftover food or struggling to find time to make a well-cooked meal? If you’re running late for work, struggling to wake up on time every morning, constantly forgetting to do other things because you’re so busy trying to rush through the day, it’s time to stop and take care of yourself.
Balancing your work life and personal life is tricky when being a caregiver around the clock. When do you get the time to look after yourself when all of your time consists of looking after others? When do you put your own needs before others? You may even feel selfish doing this when you have so many other tasks to complete but it’s important to do so!
Self-care can range from napping, meditating, healthy eating to pedicures/manicures, socializing, reading, traveling, and other forms of relaxation. But is this going to relieve any stress or headaches you have? And most importantly, do you even have time for these self-care methods? Truth is, you may not. But I’ve managed to find a few easy tricks to look after myself while caring for my mother.
Self-Care Caregiver Tips
Facial masks, manicures, pedicures and resting your eyes all sound like the perfect “me” time. But there’s no time to get these things done and when we plan for these occasions, it feels like a chore. Instead, here’s what I would advise:
- Multi-task: When I’m cleansing my mother’s face, I wash mine at the same time. I’ll put on facial masks and nose strips for the both of us so we can enjoy it together. I always anticipate her chuckle when she sees me covered up in a mango scented face mask with a big white strip plastered across my nose.
- Take things slow. My biggest mistake is planning to complete all my tasks and chores in one single day. At first it seems manageable, but once 5 o’clock hits, and I haven’t finished folding the laundry or started cooking dinner, my stress levels hit the ceiling! Be more organized and plan your week ahead so you have plenty of time to complete chores and have some time to spare for yourself.
- Help yourself first. They say you have two hands: one for helping yourself, the other one for helping others. Looking after yourself comes first, everything else can come second. When looking after a patient, all you can think about is their health and their needs. As a caregiver, we don’t have time to asses our own needs or we make up excuses. Do all the little things for yourself that help you throughout the day. Schedule in a haircut appointment or a social night during the week.
- Ask for help. Caring for someone everyday is difficult, not everyone can do it. Most of us can’t even look after ourselves! It’s fine to say “I can’t do this” or “it’s too much”. But never give up, never let that terrible feeling inside you get to your mind and make you think that you can’t do this anymore. Ask other caregivers for help, advice, and their best caregiver tips.
- Think positive. Set yourself some goals for the week that motivate you throughout the day. This way, you’re looking forward to something that’ll keep you going and help you stay positive. I love eating out, and I always plan to go out to eat on Friday nights. So I’ll be sure to plan my week ahead and ensure all my responsibilities are completed by Friday night at 7pm!
These are just a few ways to look after yourself. Self-care isn’t just for caregivers; it’s for every single one of us, regardless of career choice. You must take care of your emotional needs as well as your physicality. Self-care isn’t easy, but it is healthy.