Learn to Control What You Can in Caregiving
Many caregivers devote their entire lives to their loved one's needs. In reality, you can't do it all
En español | Is it ever appropriate to draw the line and say, "I can't do any more right now"? In a word, yes.
The best way to help your loved one is to pay attention to your own health and needs. Only then can you turn to your loved one's needs. It serves no one if you are worn to a frazzle because of your devotion.
What helps caregivers realize they need a break to take care of themselves? Getting a clear perspective on what you can and can't control may help more than anything.
Here are four things you can do to regain control:
1. Take care of yourself
In order to sustain the arduous tasks related to caregiving, you need to have the personal resources to be able to give. This means not running yourself ragged. Regularly step back and nurture yourself. Try making appointments with close friends for cups of tea. Take long walks or long bubble baths. Read escapist fiction or go to lighthearted movies. If you're really feeling overwhelmed, see a trained counselor who can suggest other options. It doesn't matter what you do to take care of yourself, it only matters that you do so.
2. Learn to pace yourself
Take breaks from caregiving tasks with self-care strategies, such as those suggested above. Do your best not to feel guilty about this. Carving out personal time has three amazing benefits. It keeps you going as a caregiver. It gives you enough energy for other loved ones, such as children, who need your everyday care. And it allows you to reorient your life apart from being a caregiver.
3. Keep living, planning and looking ahead
Caregiving can be all-consuming, so it's easy to stop thinking about your own life. Continue to have goals and dreams and know that, no matter what happens to your loved one, your life will go on. You will be prepared for it — only you can take charge of that.
4. Pay attention to, and treasure, all your memories of your loved one
Savor the moments together when you are caregiving, and honor your loved ones with memories if they have passed on. There is no way to make up for the loss of someone you love. Your life will be forever changed. The dearer and richer the connection, the more painful the loss, but also the greater the memories. And these memories will provide comfort. Get creative about finding ways to share your stories and enjoy photographs or videos.
Remember, caregivers have needs, too. Care for yourself just as you care for all the people in your life.
This feature was previously published by Johnson & Johnson.