Taking Time for Yourself is EssentialArevik
If you are providing care or concerned about a loved one in Hospice, you may feel exhausted and overwhelmed. You’re likely so focused on taking care of your loved one that you forget to take care of yourself or feel like you don’t have the time or energy to do so. It is crucial that you first take care of yourself, or else you’re not going to have the energy, emotional fortitude, or health to cope with your loved one and the challenges before you.
Women are particularly at risk for developing health problems from stress but anyone can develop stress-related illness. Caregivers have an increased risk of developing hypertension, heart problems, diabetes, cholesterol problems, and depression. The reasons for these health problems are many. Stress, combined with lack of sleep, not getting enough exercise, and poor eating habits, are often factors. Sadly, many people feel selfish if they ask for help or say they need some time out.
You probably already know if you are burning out. Anxiety may increase. You might sleep too much or too little. Your decision-making abilities may not be as good as they usually are. You might be forgetful. The temptation to indulge in unhealthy habits such as drinking, eating, or smoking too much may be irresistible. You may find yourself withdrawing or snapping at others.
Unfortunately, most caregivers don’t take steps to care for themselves until they are already well in the process of exhaustion, overwhelmed, and possibly illness themselves. Prevention is the key to becoming exhausted and overwhelmed. Here are some ideas and tools that you can use to keep yourself well.
- Utilize the services of the Arclight Hospice staff to the fullest. We are here for you! Meet with the bereavement specialists and spiritual support staff. Discuss your feelings and needs with the hospice social worker.
- Be willing to accept the help of others. For example, a volunteer may not prepare a meal for your loved one precisely in the way that you would do it.
- Cut yourself some slack. Do you really need to make an elaborate meal or run the vacuum cleaner as often as you do?
- Take advantage of support in your community. Use your employer’s employee assistance program if one is available. Reach out to others in support meetings, such as those for families of patients with a specific illness or Hospice.
- If you can’t sleep, rather than just count sheep, try reaching out to others in similar situations. When you’re too exhausted to reach out in person, pick up the telephone or join one of the many online support groups. Many of the groups online are available 24 hours a day.
- Join in-person or online spiritual communities.
- Take a leisurely bath. Treat yourself to some inexpensive treats such as hey gourmet coffee flavor or one beautiful pastry from a local shop
- Practice breathing exercises, guided imagery, or meditation.
- Spend time outdoors every day. If a home health aide comes to your home to bathe your loved one, step outside for a few minutes, enjoy nature, and get some fresh air.
- You may know people who offer to help. They may not know how to be of assistance. Rather than saying that you are ok and don’t need help, keep a list. Keep track of ways that people can make things easier for you. It may be that you need help with cleaning or would love to have an hour to yourself one day. Tell people. People are often than very willing to help.
- Take advantage of respite services.
- Eat well.
- Take a nap.
- Indulge in funny movies, light-hearted books with happy endings, and simple hobbies
- Get daily exercise, even if it is only for a few minutes at a time.
- Permit yourself just to be.
Self-care is essential to care. You are important. It is essential to empower yourself to take better care of your loved one by taking care of yourself first.