Caring for Yourself While Caregiving Through the Holidays
Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash
Even though it is a special season, the holidays are stressful—be it traveling, hosting and attending events, buying gifts, etc. The effort is even more so when one is already a caregiver—a demanding role in itself.
Whether you are a healthcare professional, family or a friend, caring for a loved one requires giving of your time and self. It is important that you do not neglect your own health in doing so. Remember: you can’t give help to someone else if you don’t have the help to give.
To begin with, know your limits. Set them. Stick to them. We all have limits, but it is easy to forget or ignore them in our service. You know where your boundaries should be so don’t ignore them or feel inadequate for not going beyond them.
Your limits are important for maintaining a balance. Balance is necessary so that you can continue to provide the level of care that your loved one needs. If you don’t spend some time respecting your limits and maintaining your own balance, you may struggle to find the strength that you need to care for them.
For the sake of maintaining balance, continue to do things you enjoy. If you have standing appointments with friends, such as a regular dinner or card game, continue it! Spending some time caring for your own needs and being around other people you enjoy will help you to better serve the person you are caring for.
Sometimes you just need a break though, and that is nothing to feel guilty for! There are actually levels of hospice care just for this purpose—to allow the caregiver a chance to take a break and recharge themselves. As human beings we require rest and reset, it’s the same reason we must sleep at night. The same applies for how we direct our time, effort and energy.
While looking after your own body and mind to keep yourself able to care for your loved one, do not neglect your spirit as well. Feeding your own spirit is a big component of avoiding burnout and depression. Pray, meditate, exercise or practice your own spirituality in whichever manner you choose. Be aware and mindful during these times. Listen to yourself and your spirit to better identify your own needs for care and those of your loved ones.
Knowing and understanding these ideas is one thing, but putting them into practice and utilizing their benefit is another. You may try journaling or another form of expressions to release your feelings. Write in a journal, type in a document on your computer or create some form of art if you are so inclined. Even a meaningful conversation with a trusted and empathetic friend can help you to release, process and understand your many strong emotions at this time.
However you are able to look after yourself during this difficult season will be a positive step in the right direction. It is easy to get swept up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays and especially difficult to care for yourself when you’re a caregiver to someone else. Remember that you are not neglecting them for yourself, you’re helping them by looking yourself: you have to fill your own well before you can pour out of it for someone else.