Taking care of others is a rewarding experience, but also exhausting. When you give, give, give, but don’t do anything to make sure your own needs are met, you will be confronted with burnout. When you are burnt out, you lose motivation to continue helping, you become short-fused or anxious, you may have trouble sleeping, and you might build resentment for the person that you are caring for. Self-care is essential, especially when giving your time and energy to provide for others. Let’s take a look at 5 ways to take care of yourself while caring for someone else.
Learn to recognize the signs that you are feeling overwhelmed with the work that you have to do. Whether you are caring for an adult or for small children, there are very obvious signs that you are going to lose it. Maybe you are starting to get snappy and irritable. Maybe you are feeling the urge to shout. When you recognize that you are losing it, it is a very clear signal that you have been neglecting caring for yourself.
1- Make time to do things that fill your emotional tank. Be it a hot bath, an hour reading under the trees, painting, reading, whatever. Do that. Often. Centering yourself for a little bit each day isn’t selfish, it is necessary. Take care of your mind and you will be able to give more fully to others.
2- Get enough sleep. Sleep is an important component to overall health. You can nourish yourself by prioritizing enough time to get a solid amount of shut-eye. If you have a to do list a mile long, make sure that sleep is near the top of that list. It takes priority over cleaning up after a long day of caring for someone.
3- Ask for help. It can be difficult to find the time to nourish yourself when you are swamped with obligations. There is no shame in asking for help. Hire help. Beg for help. Focus on the things that matter most and delegate out the other things that are too much to take on. It’s important to make yourself a priority too.
4- Eat well. Nourishing our body is an obvious, but often neglected method of self-care. When we eat too much “junk,” we start to feel like junk. Eating more whole foods, and less sugar are one step towards a healthier body. When our body feels good, we feel good. Eating often enough also good practice. We can’t help others when we are running on an empty tank.
5- Exercise. Diet and exercise always seem to go hand in hand. Sometimes it feels like people suggest them too much, but there is good reason why. Exercise helps strengthen our bodies, improves flexibility, reduces toxins, and boosts our self-confidence. Exercise doesn’t have to be going to a gym or running on a treadmill. Make it fun so that you want to do it more. Include the people that you are caring for, if you can. Take the kids for a jog on a trail. Go for a walk on the shores of a body of water.
We have one body to last our entire lives. Taking care of it physically, mentally, and emotionally will eliminate a lot of the stresses that many people experience throughout life. And for those experiences that we can’t avoid, like a death, a major, unexpected expense, or normal bumpy obstacles, we will be better equipped to deal with the weight that comes with those situations.