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Caregivers need care too

posted 10 Jul 2015, 20:31 by Suzi Wallis   [ updated 10 Jul 2015, 20:33 ]
You may be caring for, or supporting someone with a number of conditions:
  • physical deterioration with age
  • a mental health issue, such as depression
  • autism or severe aspergers
  • dementia or Alzheimer's
  • someone who has been unemployed long term
  • someone who has experienced a major loss or change
  • a physical disability
It is vital that you practice self care during the time period you are carrying a heavier load than normal (and permanently if the situation is permanent).

Because the other person's "symptoms" may be more obvious, your needs may be lost in the myriad of commitments, challenges and obligations that are presented to you on a regular basis. If you are noticing any of the following:
  • brain fog
  • trouble making decisions
  • higher emotional reactivity
  • a feeling of emotional numbness
  • physical discomfort such as headaches, sore stomach or breathing imbalances
  • inability to tolerate your usual stresses
  • sleep changes
  • appetite changes
you need to take some time out, and have some downtime (whatever that means for you). You are no good to the person you are supporting if you are spread too thin. If you encounter a serious illness or accident, those who are reliant on you will be helpless. Prevention is better than cure. Ensure you:
  • get a good amount of sleep (this could be anywhere from 7-9 hours per night)
  • exercise regularly
  • spend time with people who nourish your soul
  • spend time alone if that's your recharge style
  • eat good quality food
  • reduce alcohol consumption
  • avoid recreational drugs
  • spend time in nature
  • take vitamin D supplements if you are not able to get good access to sunlight
Self care is not selfish, even if you don't have additional commitments to your normal load. It is a vital element of a healthy life. When you do have additional responsibilities, it is even more essential, and will ensure that you are more present and available when you are around the person you are supporting. A few hours to yourself could generate an extra day's energy - which will lighten your load in the short and medium term.

Suzi Wallis | Jul 2015