Take Care of Yourself First: A Conversation

Do you spend more time caring for others than for yourself?  Are you working sunrise to sunset without a break in the day for yourself?  Do you have one or more family members who require your dedicated attention to ensure their medical needs are met on a daily basis?  As a typical caregiver, you prefer to give than receive, and this can result in diminished capacity to continue to give of yourself – you are on the track to burnout.

Bench Under Tree

This is a typical conversation with caregivers.  I know, because I’ve been on both sides:

You’re looking tired these days; are you taking time for yourself?

     Myself?  When do I have the time!  I know, I’ve heard it before – take care of yourself first.  But that is not who I am!  We boomers do what we must to care for our family! 

Admirable, yes, and I love the selflessness behind it, but you could get sick or hurt yourself or your family in the end.  Is that what you want?

     That’s the last thing I want to happen; I’m too busy worrying about my parents and family.  I don’t have time to worry about myself, and it’s just plain selfish if I do.

Selfish?  Depends on how you look at it.  If you want the best for your mom and dad and family, don’t you need to be at your best?  Take a little time for yourself.  Sit and have a cup of tea; or call someone just to chat.  Maybe you could organize a day trip with other caregivers, sharing the caregiving along the way; that could be fun. 

     I want to be a good person, to take care of my family.  This is my responsibility, not someone else’s.  If I stop for myself, who will take care of mom – my dad?  Who will take care of my family?

You’re not alone.  Even if you are the only caregiver, you are not alone.  There are folks out there who care about you and don’t want to see you suffer.  No one is asking you to stop; just asking you to pause every now and then; take a little.   There are groups out there that can help too, especially if you don’t have enough time.

     I don’t need to be greedy; I don’t want to be greedy and pass my responsibilities on to someone else.

You aren’t greedy; you’d be smart.  Taking care of yourself means you can stay healthy, in mind and body!  Don’t you need energy to face this every day?  If you leave it up to fate, hoping you’ll find time for yourself, it won’t happen.  You need to plan events that make you happy; bring yourself a little joy.  Schedule the time to be with yourself or with people you want to be with.  It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, just ‘you’ time.  Like the time we went to see that movie you like and had dinner.  That was great!

     I had fun too, but I did worry about what was going on back at the house.

That’s ok – normal worry stuff.  You could say it was canceled out by the good time we had.

      Mom did say I was in a good mood the next morning.  She was happy too – for me, I think.

So, I guess you should do this more often.

I think many of us try to make time for ourselves, but we really aren’t committed to it.  We don’t plan events or schedule time that will help us re-energize.  We believe it’s okay, because we are being selfless, but as time goes by, we become drained and tired and sometimes ill.  We get grouchy and resentful.  I’m sure the people we care about don’t want to see that!

How do you take time for yourself?

Are you a caregiver?  Share your story or a photo!

  1. Join other caregivers – here.
  2. Download the handy sign
  3. Post your story-sign here.

Believe in yourself; thanks for ‘listening’.

https://www.caregiver.org/

http://www.videocaregiving.org/

http://www.apa.org/pi/about/publications/caregivers/faq/index.aspx

http://www.apa.org/pi/about/publications/caregivers/resources/index.aspx

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