A caregiver's guide to caring for yourself
If you're a carer, it can be easy to forget to care for yourself. Here are some simple ways to make 'me time' every day.
My mother had a stroke almost two years ago and I had no idea what a life-changing moment this would be for both of us.
I had been caring for my widowed, 91-year-old mother for a number of years and although she had a few medical issues, I was able to live my busy life as normal while helping her with specialists’ appointments, shopping and minor household chores.
The emergency: Looking after a loved one
Warning signals: Looking after yourself
Taking ‘me time’
Here are some simple ways to take ‘me time’ every day so you can also care for yourself.
Find a quiet corner with a comfortable chair away from any distractions. Close your eyes, relax, breathe slowly and deeply, and think of something that says ‘calm’ or ‘peaceful’ to you.
Or, if you can go outdoors, focus on a flower, leaf, cloud or insect. Just watch and observe it as if you’re seeing it for the first time. This is a great way to connect with the natural environment and draw a sense of peace from it.
This is a great way to connect with the natural environment and draw a sense of peace from it.
Ten minutes can do wonders. Lie on the floor with both legs resting on a chair and spread your arms on the floor, palms up. Close your eyes, breathe normally and think of a relaxing situation.
Pick a time and place where you won’t be disturbed, lie down somewhere comfortable (throw a rug over yourself if you’re cold) and listen to relaxing music or follow mindfulness exercises. Mindfulness is designed to help reduce stress, increase self-awareness and enable you to handle painful feelings and thoughts effectively.
As carers, we tend to throw ourselves into our roles with such zeal that we forget to pace ourselves. We sometimes ignore warning signs and neglect our health, forgetting that we can’t be much help to a loved one if we fall ill. I’m reminded of the instructions for dealing with oxygen masks during emergencies on planes: “Always secure your own mask first, then help children or other people.”
If you'd like more guidance and help with caring for a loved one, the Bupa Aged Care Support Line might be able to give you some helpful information.