Caregivers are so important, but they often forget self-care.
Being a caregiver can add value to life.
To begin with, caregivers knowing that they are providing the care they know their family member or patient needs can bring great joy and value. But beyond this, caregivers also provide a benefit to society at large, in a very practical way. Caregivers save the government and society from a significant financial concern, translating into millions of dollars (Brickell, et. al, 2019). From the micro to the macro, caregivers are an integral part of the caring community tapestry of society.
But who takes care of the caregivers?
Let’s be honest. Most times, no one. The caregiver is tasked with caring for themselves while taking care of others. This can be a challenge, especially when the toll can be so emotional, whether on a personal or professional level.
Someone who finds themselves in the role of caregiver, whether personal or professional should not disregard the importance of self-care.
The definitions for self-care are varied, and guidance can help someone decide which route to self-care is appropriate for them. We at Unified Caring Association want to be wayshowers on your journey towards a good self-care regimen. Go here: https://unifiedcaringassociationreviews.com/?s=self-care to find articles on this topic to help you begin a self-care journey.
Studies have shown that self-care for professionals can range from self-awareness and mindfulness, to understanding the delicate balance of one’s own needs and the needs of others (Shapiro, Brown, & Biegel, 2007).
And surely, these approaches can be applied to personal situations as well. Let’s talk about these ideas. Let’s explore what it means to be a caregiver and take care of yourself in the face of the huge responsibility of caring for another.
What is self-awareness and mindfulness?
Bringing the light of our consciousness to our thoughts and feelings is by itself, a transformative power
Namely, Oxford’s dictionary defines self-awareness as “conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings” (Lexico, 2019). In short, this type of mindfulness can feel just like telling yourself that you matter. For example, every moment you take the time to pay attention to how you’re feeling or what you are thinking about is a conscious choice to say “I matter,” instead of putting yourself and your feelings on the back burner.
The thoughts and feelings you are experiencing can sometimes be overwhelming.
In particular, it is important to allow yourself to experience your thoughts and feelings without judging yourself. Generally, practice self-compassion. You can hear more about self-compassion and what it means to nurture your heart, by listening to Tara Brach’s talk https://www.tarabrach.com/judgment-self-compassion/.
When you pay attention to your feelings, what you need becomes consciously more important.
The simple act of awareness becomes a self-correcting process.
Amazingly, this awareness and caring about your state of being will present remedies for what ails you in the moment. Some days, the perfect medicine will be a walk in your neighborhood. Other days, it may be allowing yourself time to sit and watch a favorite movie (even when there are dishes to do!). Or perhaps, you may want to make time to pursue that hobby you have been thinking about for years. Then again, you may want to sign up for a class.
Self-care is also asking for help when you need it.
Did you know that help from a therapist is just a phone call away? The NAMI helpline https://www.nami.org/find-support/nami-helpline is available.
Maybe, you want to get out and do something good for the world.
Nothing warms the heart like knowing you are making a difference. Read more about volunteering here: https://www.unifiedcaring.org/?s=volunteering.
What ever your self-care path looks like, we are here to assist and guide you.
Please reach out to us here: https://www.unifiedcaring.org/contact-us/. We want to hear your ideas about what self care looks like for you.
Would you like to know more about Unified Caring Association? Check out our blogs on UCA, Caring Action, and Caring the UCA Way! Would you like to keep up with UCA activities? Check us out on Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter for updates throughout the week!
Brickell, t.A, French, L.M., Gartner, R.L., Driscoll, A. E., Write, M.M., Lippa, S.M. & LAnge, R. T. (2019) Factors related to perceived burden among caregivers of service members/veterans floowing TBI. Rehabilitation Psychology, 643 (3), 307-319
Lexico. (2019). Lexico, powered by Oxford. Retrieved from https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/self-awareness
Shapiro, S., Brown, K.B., & Biegel, G. (2007). Teaching self-care to caregivers: Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on the mental health of therapists in training. Training and Education in Professional Psychology 1(2), 105-115. doi:10.1037/1931-39188.8.131.52
Tara Brach, (2019). From judgement to self-compassion (retreat talk). Retrieved from https://www.tarabrach.com/judgment-self-compassion/