How to be a good caregiver by taking care of yourself
Jul 16, 2021
Almost all of us know or have lived the situations that day to day are presented to the caregivers of dependent people.
It seems that these people live for the well-being of those they care for and they themselves take a back seat. This fact gradually damages the caregivers, sometimes even becoming ill themselves.
Whenever I have parents or caregivers in front of me, I give them the same example. When you get on the plane, the flight attendant who instructs you on security measures says something like this such as: if you go with children, please put on the oxygen mask first and then put the child on the hers. And this is the fundamental idea, almost the mantra, that should prevail in these situations; if we don't take care of ourselves we won't be able to take care of others.
- Related article: "10 psychologically healthy daily habits, and how to apply them to your life"
What to do to take care of yourself as a caregiver?
Caring for a dependent person requires that you dedicate time, attention, effort, patience, love, emotional management skills, a lot of energy, etc. Due to the intensity of these situations, one of the characteristics that usually occurs is that caregivers forget all the other roles they have and focus solely and exclusively on this role. His life is caring and everything else is added to this activity.
This condition, at times, is well seen by society and is even accompanied by comments such as "how good person you are "," this will be rewarded "," is what a son / daughter has to do "... But the reality is that forgetting our other roles in life hurts us more than it helps usSince, like it or not, there are functions that we cannot exclude and that must also be fulfilled so that everything works and we can maintain a balance in our lives.
1. In the family and couple context ...
The fact of focusing on another and always paying attention to him in the first place, has repercussions in the family, social, work and personal context. As mentioned before, it often happens that other roles we have (son / daughter, partner, mother or father, etc) are forgotten. Logically, each care situation is different and each family system as well.
It is important to remember from what role we are communicating with others; If we have a partner, we have to communicate with her from that position (not from that of caregiver) and we should try to leave a space for the relationship. Limit the role to those situations that demand it And letting out and growing other roles that we also have will help us to enjoy other parts of our life by reducing the emotional load and increasing the feeling of control.
2. In the relationship with friends ...
The network of social contacts is usually affected, since there is practically no time to go out for a coffee or do any activity. In addition, it also often happens that the quality of relationships decreases because Most of the information that these people can give on a personal level is scarce and almost always related to the role of caregiver.
Reserve time to contact friends even online or by phone, limit the intensity of the discourse given about the care situation, look for online spaces in which I can interact with other people or hire an external caregiver one or days a week in which to dedicate time to social life, are some ideas so that this social network does not crumble.
3. In the workplace ...
The labor level is also usually affected, innumerable permits, leaves, absences, hours to make up, etc. Caregivers sometimes have to quit their job to care for this person. Teleworking is an option that opens up many possibilities for people who are in this situation. Do not disconnect from work, even if you have had to leave, and continue training and renewing yourself at an educational level will help you remain motivated and open new job opportunities.
4. In managing emotions ...
On a personal level, feelings of frustration, anxiety, guilt may appear when it is done something for oneself, sadness about the situation, and sometimes, anger and fear also have room.
Leave spaces where you can spend time paying attention to yourself, like meditating, reading, taking a quiet shower, listening to music... It will help those feelings of exhaustion, anxiety and frustration to diminish.
These situations are complex to handle on an emotional level and most of the time it is advisable to propose that they go to therapy so that they can sustain this situation without being excessively harmed.
5. As for physical health needs ...
On a physical level, problems related to the sleep hygiene, lack of physical activity, muscle aches, headaches and extreme fatigue.
Maintaining eating, sleeping and physical exercise habits is the basis for us to be well and maintain a positive and patient attitude.
So remember that you must put yourself first to be able to take good care of yourself, that this does not mean being selfish but intelligent and empathetic with oneself and with the situation that one has.