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, part two here, and part three here.
But when can we care for ourselves?
I have been asked this question several times and I have an answer. We can care for ourselves now, all the time, and while we care for others. All we need to do is redefine self-care. The most helpful definition of self-care is to consider everything we do for ourselves as self-care. So, for example, the way we eat, sleep, breathe, and walk can all be ways to care for ourselves.
The following two self-care reflections are simple metaphors to encourage us to care for ourselves while we care for others. Both reflections are adapted from my book, Self-Care Reflections.
The Dance of Self and Other Care
We need to take care of us while we are taking care of them. We cannot wait until we have some free time or a vacation. We need to care for ourselves now.
We can use the metaphor of a dance to visualize caring for them and us during each day. In a dance, let's say a dance with two partners, the couple steps forward and, then, back - over and over again.
In the "dance" of self and other care, we make choices all day, every day to take care of them and us. One dance step is a movement to help ourselves. The next step is a movement to help them. We can dance through our day!
How will your daily dance steps reflect your self-care?
The Tapestry of Self-Care and Other-Care
Most information about self-care emphasizes self-care as "taking a break" (getting away from) and "venting" (talking) about the persons in our care. The underlying belief seems to be that we cannot take care of ourselves unless we separate ourselves from the persons in our care.
"Taking breaks" and "venting" can be helpful. However, self-care needs to be an ongoing interwoven part of our lives and our days - similar to weaving a tapestry.
Weaving is an art that intertwines multiple threads to form the whole fabric. Weaving together our self-care with the care of others is also an art. Our focus on both the care of ourselves and others becomes the fabric of our lives.
How will you weave the fabric of your life to include self-care and other-care?
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.