Many of us care for others in our lives. We care for those we love in many ways; emotionally, physically, and sometimes, we care for others in our life through long-term physical and mental health challenges. When we need to care for others, we can feel as though we lose ourselves in the process. How can we change this to improve our relationships and outlook when in situations focused on the health and well-being of those we love? Is it selfish to need time away from a caregiving position, or is it needed in order to continue moving forward with a clear mind?
“Caregiving may include help with one or more activities important for daily living such as bathing and dressing, paying bills, shopping and providing transportation. It also may involve emotional support and help with managing a chronic disease or disability.” (cdc.gov). It may feel impossible to take time for yourself when caring for a loved one, no matter what the prognosis or condition may be. One thing I have learned is in order to be able to truly help someone with their physical and mental health needs, the caregiver needs to be able to step away and be compassionate with themselves. If this does not happen, they, in turn, can project a multitude of emotions onto others in their lives. What are the steps we can take in order to make sure caregivers are balancing their own needs with those they are caring for? There are several significant things to remember, starting with asking for help when needed and not waiting until things are too overwhelming, which can be difficult but necessary for true balance. Equally as important as asking for help is accepting help that is offered, no matter how difficult it might be. Help comes in many forms, and it is always okay for the caregiver to receive and accept help without hesitation. Finally, lean on the support system you have available. Who can you talk to when things become too much? Who is able to sit with you in silence and hear the words you are unable to speak clearly? Those are your people, and they are the backbone to continuing to maintain balance between self-care and taking care of those around you. Do not ever forget the stress and beauty of being able to care for another person in your life. Never forget, too, that we cannot care for others without first caring for ourselves. It is not selfish, and self-care and compassion are not optional. It is mandatory to our well-being and continued success in impactful positions with those we love and care deeply for.