There are big challenges coming our way over the next ten to fifteen years as our population continues to age, live longer, and ultimately die. Demands for care will grow exponentially, hospitals will not be able to cope, and publicly funded care homes will house only those with the most complex care needs. Those who are healthier will need to fend for themselves either in expensive private care homes or live with family
- What Could Self-care Look Like?
I have listed a number of ideas below that are self-care related and lets keep this as simple as we can. Pick a maximum of three (3) of these practices that appeal to you and then add them to your week at times that will work for both you and the one you are giving care to. It is important that you DO make time to add these helpful practices to some of your days in order that you minimize the potential for burnout. Also pick a friend that will support you in adding these new self-care habits to your week, a friend that will hold you accountable until the new tasks become habits.
These ideas originated from Chris Rothman, PHD and can be found at www.griefcounselor.org. The partial list below is taken from his work in 2010 and I have modified it to suit the specific needs of care providers.
- Designate an afternoon or evening when you are not caring for your loved one and turn your cell phone and laptop off. Create personal quiet time just for you to do whatever you feel drawn to do.
- When you are ‘carrying’ your loved one with you emotionally set up a specific time of the day to ‘feel’ for 20 minutes. Set a timer. When time is up have a shower and let the water rinse away your feelings in a cleansing way.
- Comfort yourself by taking a warm bath using your favorite scents, and burn aroma therapy candles—it’s invigorating and relaxing at the same time.
- Play music that matches your mood. Feel understood by the songs and singers that share your experiences. Dance your sadness and grief out while listening to the songs.
- Find something alive to care for: plants, pets, fish, or go dig in your garden if you have one.
- Eat at least one nourishing meal each day, free range, organic and local produce is best.
- Breathe—really breathe! Full belly. In through the nose, slowly out through the mouth. Set aside 5 minutes to do this breathing practice before and after each shift
- Try exercises like yoga, tai chi, jogging or walking. Twice each week would be great.
- Spend some time in nature. Go for a walk and hug a tree!
Remember keep it simple; this is for you and your self-care. Don’t make it a burden or another task to get done. Once you have three weeks of time doing the self-care exercises of your choice, you will start to feel a little lighter, perhaps less overwhelmed and maybe experience more moments of joy and happiness.