Caring for Ourselves

by Self Care0 comments

It is extremely important for the caregiver to take good care of him or herself as well as the care-receivers.  CareGiving can be a thankless, exhausting job and it may seem selfish to take care of oneself when the care-receivers require so much attention.  To fail to do so, however, can be destructive.  Jesus said, “Love God . . . Love Neighbor . . . Love Self.”

The following guidelines are for care givers who feel overwhelmed, tired, frustrated, lonely, or like a “Caged Bird.”

  •  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 not (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 & 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 and remember that a vital part of prayer is listening.
  • 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.
  • Repeat scriptures  – find a meaningful Psalm & a personal “power-verse.”
  • Simplify your life.
  • Be open so that God can work.  Keep giving your anxiety, fear, confusion to God.
  • Treat yourself to something special.
  • 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.
  • Read James Cook’s booklet, Shared Pain and Sorrow:  Reflections of a Secondary Sufferer, (Pilgrim Press, 1991.)
  • Read pages 65-70 in The Compassionate Congregation.
  • For some tips for the (long term) caregiver, see    Choose “Articles” under “Personal Heath Organizer, . . .”




Karen Mulder

Karen Mulder

Karen Mulder is the founder of the Wisdom of the Wounded ministry. She lives in Holland, Michigan with her husband Larry.