“We can’t control everything!”
-excerpted from Taking Care of YOU: Self-Care for Family Caregivers (Family Caregiver Alliance)
Many times, attitudes and beliefs form personal barriers that stand in the way of caring for yourself. Not taking care of yourself may be a lifelong pattern, with taking care of others an easier option. However, as a family caregiver you must ask yourself: “What good will I be to the person I care for if I become ill? If I die?” Breaking old patterns and overcoming obstacles is not an easy proposition, but it can be done—regardless of your age or situation. The first task in removing personal barriers to self-care is to identify what is in your way. For example:
- Do you think you are being selfish if you put your needs first?
- Is it frightening to think of your own needs? What is the fear about?
- Do you have trouble asking for what you need? Do you feel inadequate if you ask for help?
- Do you feel you have to prove that you are worthy of the care recipient’s affection? Do you do too much as a result?
Sometimes caregivers have misconceptions that increase their stress and get in the way of good self-care. Here are some of the most commonly expressed:
- I am responsible for my parent’s health.
- If I donʼt do it, no one will.
- If I do it right, I will get the love, attention, and respect I deserve.
- Our family always takes care of their own.
- I promised my father I would always take care of my mother.
“I never do anything right,” or “Thereʼs no way I could find the time to exercise” are examples of negative self-talk, another possible barrier that can cause unnecessary anxiety. Instead, try positive statements: “Iʼm good at giving John a bath.” “I can exercise for 15 minutes a day.” Remember, your mind tends to believe what you tell it.
Because we base our behavior on our thoughts and beliefs, attitudes and misconceptions like those noted above can cause caregivers to continually attempt to do what cannot be done, to control what cannot be controlled. The result is feelings of continued failure and frustration and, often, an inclination to ignore your own needs. Ask yourself what might be getting in your way and keeping you from taking care of yourself.
Check out the full article: Taking Care of YOU: Self-Care for Family Caregivers (Family Caregiver Alliance)