Are you providing long-term care for someone? Caregiving can be a thankless, exhausting job. When you’re so busy taking care of someone else, how do you take care of you?
Even though it may seem selfish to think about taking care of yourself when the care-receiver requires so much attention, you must do so. In the long run, if you fail to care for yourself, you increase the chance of burnout, exhaustion, or worse. Remember, Jesus called us to not only Love God and our neighbors, but ourselves as well.
The following guidelines are for caregivers who feel overwhelmed, tired, frustrated, or lonely.
- Know your limits. Do not take on more than you know you can handle emotionally, physically, financially, or otherwise.
- Ask for help from others. Accept help from others. Delegate some of the responsibilities.
- Have realistic expectations. Remember that you can’t (usually) “fix” another person’s problems. You are called to comfort – walk alongside that hurting person, and to listen.
- Remember the basics that you need to be healthy and effective:
- Good nutrition
- Balance between work & refreshing time
- Spiritual Energy (praying, Bible study, spiritual sharing, etc.)
- Schedule regular times of respite. Can members of your church, family or extended family or friends help? Perhaps a home health aide, home health companion, a private duty nurse, adult foster care, or a short stay in nursing home or assisted living are possibilities.
- Pray – as Jesus did. Get away, be quiet and pray. Remember that a vital part of prayer is listening for God’s response. My favorite definition of prayer is, “Prayer is connecting with God so that God can empower you.”
- Ask others to pray for you.
- Have a sense of humor. Laugh as much as you can.
- Express anger, depression and other difficult feelings occasionally.
- Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts and feelings.
- Find a meaningful Psalm or a personal “power-verse.” Memorize them and repeat them to yourself when you feel your spirits sagging. Mine is Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”
- Be open so that God can work. Keep giving your anxiety, fear, and confusion to God.
- Treat yourself to something special, even if it’s as simple as stopping for a moment to watch a beautiful sunrise or sunset before you resume your activities.
- Take pride in what you are accomplishing and applaud the courage it has sometimes taken to meet the needs of a hurting person
- Find a listening friend.
- Consider being a part of a support group, or help form one if none is available.
- Seek out a sincere “hugger.” Sometimes the only thing that really helps to melt away our pain is a warm embrace. As Leo Buscaglia says, “To put your arm about another or on a shoulder is a way of saying, ‘I see you,’ ‘I feel with you,’ ‘I care.’”
- Educate yourself about the care-receiver’s condition.
- Help the person to help themselves and maintain their routine, and dignity as much as possible.
- One of the most important things you provide to the one you take care of is emotional support. A listening ear can work wonders for their morale.
For more resources, please view the Self Care category on our site.