Do you know self-care may be the most unselfish thing you can do?
Because only after meeting your own needs are you strong enough to care for someone else.
Yes, I’m serious! And here’s an example about the importance of caring for yourself first in an emergency . . .
The commercial airline industry started after World War II.
Initially all the airlines — in every country — struggled with how to get their adult passengers to put on their own oxygen before helping others especially children in an emergency. A parent would struggle to get oxygen on his or her confused or fussing child first.
Placing both at risk for death.
The airlines discovered the solution. Amazingly it worked in all cultures.
What was it?
Protecting the child first is a universal response of good parents.
Telling parents they needed to help themselves first became part of the standard safety instructions. Flight attendants started explaining it was the best way to help their children, by seeing parents had their own oxygen on first.
A parent who had enough oxygen thought more clearly and could then successfully place the oxygen on a confused or struggling child.
The same is true in caregiving — both for professional and family caregivers.
You need to take care of yourself before you can optimally care for anyone else.
Leeza Gibbons wrote a book called Take Your Oxygen First. She discusses how this is important in caring for someone with memory loss. It applies to all caregivers — temporary caregivers, long-term caregivers, professional caregivers, family caregivers and more . . .
Because the principle is the same.
Only after meeting your own needs are you strong enough to care for someone else.
What areas of self-care should you focus on to reduce caregiver stress?
Caregivers tend to suppress feelings while caring for someone else.
While it’s a coping mechanism, it’s usually not a conscious choice.
And unless you deal with them, suppressing your feelings long-term is not healthy. It can increase rather than decrease your caregiver stress.
Here’s why . . .
When you see someone — or in the case of professionals many people — going through debilitating diseases or trauma, it’s hard emotionally. And processing those emotions while you’re busy doing the minute-by-minute caregiving that needs done can seem impossible.
And probably is unless you can take a break. You need to focus to process your emotions.
You may need someone else to give care for a few hours or even longer while you take a break. Not dealing with your emotions can increase your caregiver stress.
Can’t do it alone?
Then seek the help of a professional. Find a counselor, a minister, or another professional who knows how to counsel and support caregivers. Your health and well-being — and that of your loved ones — may depend upon it.
In the busy-ness of giving care caregivers often ignore their own physical needs.
Getting enough sleep, getting regular physical activity and eating a healthy diet are all parts of what your body needs to take on caregiver stress and challenges.
When you are in good shape physically, you can better deal with caregiving.
Caregivers also have a tendency to ignore their spiritual needs.
In caring for someone else, the timing can leave you little or no time for spiritual renewal. Or so you may think . . .
Spiritual connection with The Creator is important to renew yourself. And meditation or prayer for 20 minutes stimulates the relaxation response.
Do you know . . .?
When you’re stressed it’s hard to think straight.
It’s not your imagination: it actually occurs with stress and fatigue. Most caregivers have more than their share of both!
Maybe you only have 5 minutes in your busy schedule. Have you heard of the 5-minute solution to stress, burnout and overwhelm?
If you can feel better in 5 minutes or less now, why wait? Click on this link now for more information!
While caregiving it’s important to reduce your caregiver stress by nurturing yourself — spiritually, emotionally and physically. It may be one of the most unselfish things you do . . .
Keep knitting to your heart’s delight — or someone else’s,
Ina Gilmore M.D. (ret.)
“The Knitting Dr.”
Ambassador of Elder Care, HowToLiveOnPurpose.com
Founder, CaregivingWithPurpose.com and TheKnittingYarn.com
The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It does not replace information or recommendations from your own physician or other health care provider. This site does not advocate medical or other health-related self-care, and encourages you to obtain advice from your own personal physician or other health care provider.
This web site is not intended to replace medical, financial, legal, or any other professional advice. Please use your own good judgment and consult with your own professionals before applying any ideas found within this website.