How do you take care of yourself when you have to care for someone else? 👉🏾 Caregiving is life adjustment that no one talks about! Recently, I have moved back to my parents house to care for my mother and I’m sharing my self-care tips for caregivers.
Caring for the woman who gave me life is a honor and heartbreaking at the same time. Most of us are ill-prepared to take care of our parents mentally, physically and financially. I’m fortunate to have a flexible career, a supportive husband and incredible friends but being away from home and living in your childhood home can be very isolating. These self-care tips for caregivers and a blueprint for approaching end of life care.
SAVOR YOUR TIME TOGETHER
If you’re lucky to spend time with a terminally ill loved one, you must view each day as the last. Be present and laugh as much a possible. Time is standing still and outside obligations feel miles away. Make an effort to find joy between the pain are caregiving woes. Watch your favorite movies and shows together. Do mini-spa days at home or host a pizza party with friends. All these things make life a bit sweeter. Remember laughter is the best medicine.
STICK TO A SCHEDULE
Create a self-care schedule. Before I tend to mom, I try to meditate and perform my Tibetan morning rituals to balance my mind and chakras. My father and I split meal duties and keep each other updated on events or errands to support each other. Taking morning time for myself sets me up for success for the day.
SWEAT IT OUT
Sweat out the grief. The inevitable will happen but physical activity decreases stress, depression, cortisol levels and releases anger! After I handle mom’s morning medication and head to the gym for circuit training. I found a wonderful gym around the corner thanks to ClassPass. Caregiving and lifting a patient takes strength and I need to be strong to move her to the bathroom or meal time. The better I feel, the better my mother feels as I’m a stronger caregiver.
TAKE TIME TO JOURNAL
Journal your thoughts and feelings to get it out of your head. My dear friend Ashley gave me the Calm The Chaos journal which is helps me so much. Each day prompts you to write down your goals for the day, gratitude and how you’re feeling. Being in Chicago without my husband is tough and sometimes when I can’t talk to him writing is my only sanity.
STREAMLINE YOUR ENERGY
Cut the fat. Distance yourself from people who stress you out. Caring for a sick loved one puts everything into perspective. It’s like living mercury in retrograde all the time. Keep it small. Surround yourself with people who fill your cup and have at least one advocate for you that’s close by for mental support. Don’t feel guilty for missing birthdays or visiting babies. This is the time to be selfish.
CLEAN UP YOUR DIET
Nourish yourself. The first thing that I did when I get back here is go on a food shopping spree and picked up only healthy items fuel my body for caregiving. As much as you would like to dip in the cookie jar, try to avoid it or just treat yourself once a week. Despite my best efforts, I have gained weight. My cortisol levels have increased and I realized my body is in survival mode. Consistent nourishment is everything.
MAKE A GRATITUDE LIST
Find the gratitude. I’m so thankful for my support system. Even if I don’t respond to all calls or messages, know that I see the message and it truly feels my cup to know that I’m not alone.
Anyone else have a similar caregiving experience? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
NOTE: My beloved mother, Carole Chataigne, passed away November 16, 2019.