Self-Care is Important for Busy Moms and Other Caregivers
You are the main character of your own life, so make your story a masterpiece. It is your time to shine! You are more than a side character in someone else's story, so make your story a good one.
Every day you have the chance to make your life whatever you want it to be. You get to decide what you are going to do, and how you are going to react to every situation that you come across.
There may be things that need to be done during the day that are on your schedule, or that come up and are beyond your control. It is ok to tackle those things first and get them off your plate, and then return to doing what you wanted to do when you woke up.
Some days will be more difficult than others. Sometimes, things will flow effortlessly and it will feel like life is perfect. Other days, it feels like nothing can possibly go right.
Recenter and refocus
When your day gets out of whack, and you feel like nothing is going right, you may want to take a break to recenter yourself. To do this, you can take a few deep, mindful breaths and focus on what is around you.
Or, you can take some time away from everyone else, even if it is only for five minutes. Then you can do something that is good for yourself to bring yourself into the present moment. Some ways to refocus are:
Drinking warm tea
Taking deep breaths
Doing a body scan
Read a book
Read motivational quotes
Any of these practices can help you feel more in tune with yourself after only a few minutes. Then, once you are calm again, you can ease back into your day and react better to difficult circumstances.
Your life is all about you
When we are caring for others, it is easy to forget that we do have the starring role in our own lives. Often, we put the needs of others so far above our own needs that we start to forget that our own needs exist.
The more you can center yourself, and focus on yourself and your life, the more you will begin being able to think about what you want and need. Remember, your needs are just as important as anyone else's needs.
It is your responsibility first and foremost to care for yourself, even if you are a caregiver for other people.
According to Caregiver,
Caregiving can be an emotional roller coaster. On the one hand, caring for your family member demonstrates love and commitment and can be a very rewarding personal experience. On the other hand, exhaustion, worry, inadequate resources, and continuous care demands are enormously stressful. Caregivers are more likely to have a chronic illness than are non-caregivers, namely high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a tendency to be overweight. Studies show that an estimated 46 percent to 59 percent of caregivers are clinically depressed.
This is true if you are caring for children, elderly parents, or someone who is chronically ill. It is easy to let other people's needs eclipse your own, especially when their needs seem to be so much.
Still, you are a worthy and worthwhile person too. It is important to make time to care for yourself, and take time to work on your goals.
It can seem like your life stops or gets put on hold if you have a new baby, or if a family member is ill or infirm. To some extent this is true, because the needs of the moment seem to take so much precedence over things you are doing that have long term implications.
If you are caring for others all the time, it can lead to health problems and to burn out. That is why it is so important to take time each day to focus on yourself, and to think about the future as well as the present moment.
Your family isn't going to need you to care for them forever, and when you are done with caregiving, you may find yourself at a crossroads where you feel like your life is empty, if you haven't taken time to keep a full life for yourself while you are caregiving.
My oldest daughter recently moved out on her own, and I definitely feel some of the empty nest syndrome. I spent so much time throughout my life making sure she was taken care of that now I feel like there is this big space in my life where those needs used to be.
This is why maintaining your own needs, as well as your hobbies, interests and friendships is so important. You will have those even after your caregiving responsibilities are passed.
What can you do for yourself today?
Take some time to think about this not just right now, today, but every day! Think about your own happiness, and spend some time putting yourself first.
Personally, I take time every day for my writing, and to do yoga and meditate. Those are the things that make me feel happy and whole inside. For you it may be different.
Think about what it is that makes your heart light up, what excites you and motivates you, and then add some of that to your day every day. It can be as simple as a nice cup of coffee, if you don't know where to start.
Or, you can take some time to journal about your feelings, to daydream and think about what your perfect life would look like. Then, write it out. Write down the things that make you come alive. This will help you to know what types of activities to add into your day.
It is ok to start small, with just a few minutes, if you aren't used to taking time for yourself. Then, once your family gets used to taking that few minutes, you can start to gradually take more and more, until you are taking an hour for yourself every day.
This way, you will be making sure that you are making your own needs and your own wellbeing a priority, no matter what else is going on in your life. Make this time for yourself non-negotiable. Schedule it into your calendar. That way, it will be like an appointment that you are keeping with yourself.
Maintaining yourself, making sure that your needs are met, and that you are doing things that excite you will help your inner fire to come alive. The more alive and vibrant that you will become, it will help to improve your relationships as well.
Things will feel less like a burden, because you will be coming at them from a place where you are calm and centered inside yourself. This will give you more energy, and will help you make it through the day happier and more able to give to others as well.