Nurturing Your Needs
Many caregivers often wonder, "How can I focus on my needs, when I hardly have enough time to breathe?" And although it may seem impossible to find the time, you can't expect to put all of your energy into caring for your loved one without taking some time to care for yourself.
It is essential that you take care of yourself in the midst of caring for the other person. Ignoring your own needs can damage your physical and mental health, thereby reducing your quality of life and limiting your capacity to continue to serve as a caregiver for your loved one.
One of the most common complaints of caregivers has to do with the reduction in their social contacts and activities. Many caregivers find that they are unable to visit with friends and relatives, go out, or do the things they enjoy as much as they would like. As a result, they begin to feel socially isolated.
It is not healthy to spend all of your time with your ill loved one, it can lead to resentment. It is okay to take some time for yourself to do the things you enjoy. Accept invitations to social gatherings, or take time to catch up with friends. Find a way to continue doing the things you love to do!
Caregiving can take a toll on your health, even if you do not have any medical problems. Poor eating habits, lack of sleep, and continuous stress can run you down and put you at risk for fatigue, injury, and illness. However, there are some important strategies that can help you to maintain your health:
- eat well
- get plenty of sleep
- exercise regularly and,
- practice relaxation.
Relaxation exercises can help relieve tension, decrease worry, improve sleep, and make you feel generally more at ease. You might want to learn more about the following methods of focusing attention on calming the body and mind, and creating a feeling of comfort:
- relaxed (diaphragmatic) breathing
- muscle relaxation
Spirituality means different things to different people. It may include religious faith or a personal sense of meaning in life. Spiritual health can be sought through formal religion, prayer not associated with any religion, meditation, soul searching and relationships with family, friends and others.
When dealing with illness, spiritual issues often come to the forefront of many family members lives. Illness and other adversity can disrupt one's sense of meaning, values, and even one's faith. Addressing your own spiritual needs can help you to deal with these concerns and grow as a person. In doing so, you may be better able to accept the situation and find some positive aspects about your role as a caregiver.