As a caregiver, it’s important to remember to take some time for yourself and make sure your needs are met. To take care of someone else, you have to take care of yourself first.
The danger of reiterating this so often is it begins to sound like a truism. You can hear the advice a million times, but when you find yourself in a caretaking role under stress, it doesn’t always “click.” We come up with reasons to minimize our needs because we’ve already got a lot on our plates.
You have rights and needs as a caregiver, and it’s important to recognize that.
As a caregiver, you have the right to:
- Seek help from others when needed. You must recognize when caring for someone else that sometimes the best thing you can do is get help for aspects of care that are beyond your capabilities. Realize that this may mean hiring a respite care worker for your loved one.
- Have a life of your own and time to yourself. It’s important to take time to yourself to recharge, and to make sure you are developing a balanced life just as you would if your loved one was healthy. Life rarely goes as planned, and we nearly always face challenges. Balance is key to ensure we’re strong enough to meet those challenges.
- Express feelings and emotions in a healthy setting. Caring for a loved one can be emotionally difficult, and sometimes you need to release what you’re feeling. Having a support group can give you an outlet to express your feelings and a network of supporters who understand exactly what you are going through.
- Stand up for yourself. If you feel you are being mistreated by your loved one, you do not have to simply “take it.” A support group can help you figure out appropriate ways to respond to behaviors you find hurtful.
If you’ve ever traveled by plane, you’ll recognize this advice: “Put your oxygen mask on before assisting others.” Self-care empowers you to breathe more easily and be more effective as a caregiver.