Author: Karen Copeland
Let’s talk about self-care. As caregivers, we are often encouraged to make sure we take time for ourselves, to replenish our own reserves; because if we are struggling, how will we be able to help our children? Sometimes though, this idea of self-care seems easier said than done. We become so caught up in our daily responsibilities and commitments, we can feel like there is not even a moment for us to sit down with a cup of tea. It’s hard!
One summer, I became very overwhelmed. Very overwhelmed. My husband was away for the summer (as he usually is). I had little opportunity to take time for myself and it was a particularly challenging time with a number of issues going on. I had focused too much on my caregiver role, convincing myself I did not have any time or opportunity to do something for me.
I CRASHED HARD!
It was ugly and it was frightening. This is not a place that I ever want to go again. I became and must continue to be more intentional about taking care of myself.
- Seeking out help from a counsellor
- Re-prioritizing my commitments – identifying key commitments as well as ones that I could set aside until I was feeling calmer
- Developing my own wellness plan in advance – taking the time to write down key things I can do or places I can go when I am feeling overwhelmed, so I don’t have to think of these in the moment
- Exploring the concept of mindfulness – one of my favorites is the Calm app, I use this frequently
- Not being afraid to say no. Learning to ask myself the question: will the world stop if we don’t do this activity today?
- Asking for help from friends and neighbors, being very purposeful to not isolate myself
- Regular physical activity
- Performing very simple random acts of kindness – holding the door open, letting someone go ahead of me in line, complimenting someone on their hairstyle, shoes, or clothing
- Ordering something completely different off a menu – this may seem like an odd stress management or self care strategy, however, when I do this I am showing myself that I am able to step outside my comfort zone. That I can get “un-stuck”.
Most importantly, I’ve come to learn that a critical component of my self-care is to make a conscious effort to see the strengths and positives – not just in myself, but in those around me. This can take a great deal of effort, however I find that when I do this my overwhelm begins to decrease to a somewhat more manageable level and I am able to look at situations with a different perspective.
What things do you do to take care of yourself? Please share in the comments section.
In the meantime, feel free to download and share my Top 5 Tips for Parents on what to do when you are feeling overwhelmed, as well as my simple Wellness Plan template.
(Don’t forget to check out all the Champions Top 5 tips here.)