Tuesday, November 20, 2012

national caregiver's month - part 3

November is National Caregiver's Month. A time to focus on those who care for others, especially if that caregiver is ourselves. Dr. Vicki Bradley has created Self-Care Reminders for Caring Professionals and Family Caregivers to focus on those very special people. Part one of this series can be found here and part two here.

Have you ever felt like this (I have!) 

It makes sense to take good care of ourselves, so we can take better care of our family members. But what if we feel trapped? We may be looking at all those people who are not family caregivers. They don’t seem to struggle with self-care! And, then how do we manage this self-care thing, any way! Our family members may seem to need us so much that there doesn’t seem to be time for anything else.

I have two reflections that might help you. I know they have helped me. I call them “No Comparison” and “Self-Care as a State of Mind.” Both reflections are adapted from my book, Self-Care Reflections. 

No Comparison

Many of us need to "think for them." In other words, we may need to help people in our care be safe and accomplish multiple tasks. We often need to think about how to do these things for them. "Thinking for them" generally becomes a normal part of our everyday lives.

However, “thinking for them" adds an extra layer of mental activity to our lives. Imagine a day or a week or a lifetime without "thinking for them." No, wait! Whose life would that be anyway! We need to be kind to ourselves. If we compare our achievements to another's achievements, then we need to take into account the extra layer of mental work we do as we "think for them." Often, because we are caregivers, we have accomplished more than most people in our everyday lives.

How will you acknowledge your giving achievements?

"Self-Care" as a State of Mind

If I limit my thoughts about "taking care of me" to just specific actions, then it is like turning on and off a switch: "now I am caring for me" to "now I am not caring for me." For example, "now I am taking time for me" but "now I am washing dishes."

If, instead, my attitude is that I am always doing my best to "take care of me" then I feel more taken care of - by me. I am more aware of how I act in ways that are caring to me.

For example: I am "taking care of me" when I am washing dishes. It's not a vacation, but I care enough for me so that I have clean dishes.

How will you become aware of all the ways you care for you all day - every day?

The mission of Self-Care Reminders is to encourage caring professionals and family caregivers to care for ourselves, so we can better care for others (and we'll be happier, too). Contact Vicki to purchase the book Self-Care Reflections, a set of Self-Care Option Cards, or to schedule a “Filling up Our Wells” workshop.

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