The Caregiver’s Guide to Self-Care: Part II
In my part one of this guide, I discussed some of the lessons I learned about caring for myself while caring for my grandfather. Here is the second half of the guide, highlighting five more self-care tips.
Engage in Uplifting Activities
There is a quote by Walt Whitman that states, “Keep your face toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”
This is especially relevant when in a caregiver role. Be relentless in the pursuit of happiness even if it’s only in small amounts here and there. Find ways to buoy up your spirit, and this will not only benefit you but the one you are caring for.
The emotions of my grandfather and I were deeply intertwined. When I was happy, he responded likewise and smiled more. When I was angry, he became anxious. Find joy in the little things and invite humor in as much as possible. The feeling after a good laugh is priceless. Here are some examples of uplifting activities:
- Read an inspiring book
- Take a warm bath
- Laugh with friends
- Listen to uplifting music
- Take a nap
- Go on a walk
- Practice gratitude
- Get a massage
One of the most important tools in my toolkit was the book, Seven Spiritual Law of Success by Deepak Chopra. The powerful readings and practical exercises brought me inspiration I never expected.
Tip: Find a mantra or quote that holds meaning for you and post it somewhere where you can see it such as the bathroom mirror. A fun idea is to pull a card each day from an inspiration card deck to help motivate you.
Ask for Help
One of the hardest things for a caregiver to do is to ask for help. To others it may appear you have everything under control. However, the complete opposite may be true. Consider what is holding you back from asking: fear of rejection, the belief of being able to handle it all, not wanting to burden others – does this sound familiar? Whatever the reasons are, out of love and respect for yourself, please reach out. This is where effective communication comes into practice and can help empower you to speak up.
Tip: A good idea is to maintain a list of ways people can help out so that when asked you can refer to it. Take into consideration the person and what they are good at or enjoy doing, such as cooking, cleaning, or doing errands.
Don’t Forget to Exercise
Exercise is good for you, and yet this is usually the last thing you may think about when caught up in the busyness of caregiving. Before you decide to ignore this recommendation, keep in mind that the benefits for caregivers specifically extends to the following:
- Reduced tension
- Increased energy
- Increased feelings of positivity
- Less irritability
- Increased creative problem-solving skills