Self-care is not a luxury, it is a necessity. In order to benefit from self-care as a caregiver, you have to experience it rather than just go through the motions. If you spend the whole time during a weekend holiday worrying and feeling guilty about leaving your family member, you defeat the purpose of taking the holiday. This example demonstrates the marked difference between going through the motions as opposed to experiencing self-care.
Have you been preoccupied with making the person you are caring for comfortable and happy that you have lost sight of your own comforts and joys? The act of providing care for others can become so ingrained over time that it may become awkward to be caring for yourself. Bear in mind, though, that caregiving can potentially put your health at risk if you do not take care of yourself.
Here are a few Acknowledge, Assess, Assist tips that may help:
Acknowledge the importance of taking care of yourself and commit to assisting yourself. Self-care is a discipline.
Acknowledge and Assess enjoyable or restful activities. Making a list can assist those who need to get back in touch with themselves since their time has been spent focused on others. Activities may include getting a massage, listening to music, watching your favourite TV program, visiting a friend who lives out of town and so on.
Start in small doses at your own pace – you make take five minutes to half an hour on an activity you enjoy. With practice increase the frequency of times during the week that you do things for yourself. After doing the activity, assess if it was enjoyable, restful, helpful for you.
If you find it difficult, it may be easier and fun to do with a partner. You can also seek professional assistance. It is not a weakness, but rather a strength to seek out help when required. You will reap the benefits for your effort.