This past weekend, I was cruising around the internet looking for caregiver resources and among the many things I discovered, were two websites that I will recommend to you here:
The Caregiver Wellness Academy is in California and offers a wide range of tools and tips for making your caregiving experience more manageable. Hope Grows is a center near Pittsburg, Pennsylvania where caregivers can find respite and counseling to reduce their stress – Oh, how I wish I could build such a center here, in the Twin Cities!
The Caregiver Wellness Academy offered an article that listed 4 common reasons why caregivers might be neglecting self-care. I want to share their list with you today.
Each of these reasons or obstacles reflects a BELIEF SYSTEM that may be part of the way YOU think about your role and responsibilities.
Belief systems are often what keeps us stuck in behaviors that no longer serve us. They may have been developed early in life, or at a time when they did make sense for us, but when they get in our way or prevent us from engaging in self-care, it is time to re-think (and likely change) those archaic belief systems.
4 common reasons YOU might be neglecting self-care. . .
- Taking time or resources (from others) to utilize on yourself makes you feel guilty.
I know I’ve said it before but, I’ll say it again: “Guilt is an emotion we feed to ourselves!”
Rarely in our circle of friends and family do we encounter others who are deliberately making us feel guilty, but our own minds convince us that if I expend any effort or resource for myself, the person(s) I look after will somehow have “less” – nope, that’s not good thinking! Some of your resources must be used to replenish YOU!
This is IRRATIONAL GUILT and it tells you that your needs do not matter and aren’t valuable enough to devote time, money, or other resources to. This premise is false!
Self-care isn’t self-indulgence, it is self-preservation!
- You’re operating under the belief that you lack the time or resources to engage in meaningful self-care.
Again, we’ve had this discussion before, You ARE Enough, you HAVE Enough, you DO enough – and, if you genuinely examine your circumstances, you can find (create, co-create, generate, ask for or redistribute) some of your resources for your own self-care.
What makes self-care MEANINGFUL is not how much time, money, or effort you spend on it, but how deeply it feeds your soul, nourishes your body, nurtures your spirit, or replenishes your relationship with yourself!
Sometimes, just a warm cup of tea and twenty minutes in the sun is all I need to be fully replenished. Sometimes spending an hour on the phone with a dear friend who lives far away is enough to lift my spirits. Sometimes putting yourself FIRST on your “to-do-list” may feel impossible, but it is also ESSENTIAL!
- You have yet to identify a meaningful and restorative way of engaging in self-care.
No one can prescribe the “right” kind or dose of self-care you need – those are things only you can determine for yourself.
The key is figuring out WHAT you need and what would be a MEANINGFUL response to that need…
- If you’re HUNGRY, you need food (Simple, huh? You’d be surprised how many times we eat JUNK because we’re in denial about what we really need!)
- If you’re TIRED, you need rest/sleep – and that may mean you need strategies for how to get adequate, restful sleep!
- If you’re LONELY, you need human connection – which means you may have to ask for what you need, so your friends (or a counselor, coach, therapist) can make themselves available to you!
- You believe (erroneously) that you (seriously?) require less than others.
This one caught me off guard, but I know it is true because there was a time that I believed this statement! When asked “How are you doing?” I would give the quick retort, “I’m fine!” when clearly, I wasn’t – I was a HOT MESS!
Do you hold onto the belief that your needs are less important (or worse, your needs don’t exist?) than others – like the one(s) you care for and look after? Admitting to ourselves and others that we have needs (as caregivers, as humans) is often difficult for us. This emerges from our need to look good, appear “perfect” and make caregiving look easy!(I’m guilty of that!)
This is hard, challenging, demanding work we do – many of us after a long day at our jobs or while caring for others in our community or family (consider those caregivers sandwiched between aging parents and special-needs children!). Denying those challenges does not serve anyone well! You have needs, name them, address them!
This is a great list, even if it isn’t completely exhaustive, it offers us a great starting place!
A mentor of mine had this to say about caregivers living in denial of their own needs. . .
“The expectation that we can be immersed in suffering and loss daily and not be touched by it is as unrealistic as expecting to be able to walk through water without getting wet.”— Rachel Naomi Remen
You are worth the investment! You deserve to have your own needs met. Self-care is the ONLY path that offers you sufficient resources for the work that lies ahead – an empty cup can feed no one! Remember that I’m here for you, and happy to help you on the journey!