“Giving yourself some loving attention is not selfish. It is sensible. If you feel loved and cherished–even if it is only by yourself–then you will have more love to give to others, too.” ― Penelope Quest, Reiki for Life: A Complete Guide to Reiki Practice.
Such meaningful words all too often forgotten when you are on a caregiving treadmill. So how can you fulfill this gift to you?
There are recent studies focusing on “self-kindness” as a way to help you through busy and complex times without feeling drained. It is clearly not about being selfish, or cynical for that matter. Self-kindness helps us to be loving and giving to others while offering the same love and care to ourselves.
How does one achieve this? Let’s first begin with allowing yourself to let go of expectations. It is easy to become trapped in a maze of “should and obligations”. We are our own worst enemy as we inflict a lot on our self and let others do the same. Keep in mind you are caregiving for your loved one and yourself.
The next challenge for many is to consciously set boundaries. One way to think about boundaries is that you don’t create boundaries to keep other people out, you create boundaries for your own energy, to ensure you have what it takes to connect more meaningfully with the people you care for.
Now think of making some time and space here and there. Can you cut some time from your shopping trip? Food preparation? These activities can get away from you if you let them. Can your loved one benefit from an adult day care or by receiving home care services? It is especially important to make sure you can get some space when you need it. Get out into the fresh air, take a walk, laugh with friends, or just to sit and read the newspaper.
Day to day caregiving takes an emotional toll on your body, whether you realize it or not, emotions can get triggered. Underneath everything there’s a whole lot of emotional processing going on. Be aware of that and allow yourself some downtime each day. The best way to do this is to build in opportunities for rest. Try not to overcommit to events or tasks. If you have a long list of things to do, build in breaks so you can pace yourself better through the day. Seek help and guidance through family, support groups, adult day care, and home care assistance.
You are the greatest gift to someone you are caring for, be gentle on yourself, you are worth so much.