Caring for Yourself as a Caregiver
When taking on a caregiver role, it is so easy to let your health and wellbeing fall to the wayside. While it may seem like you need to put yourself second in order to make someone else your first priority, this isn’t always the case. When your health and wellbeing break down, so does your ability to effectively care for and aid someone else. Having an ineffective and unhealthy caregiving relationship can prove to be detrimental to both you, and your struggling loved one in the long run. Here are some tips to keep you in tip-top shape and at your caregiving best.
Allowing all emotions
As a caregiver, every day may not be a positive day. There will be days, or even weeks, that you will feel stressed, frustrated, angry, or maybe even a little resentful. While it may seem like these are awful emotions to have, especially when you have the best intentions in mind, it’s important to remember that they are normal. Everyone will get frustrated from time to time, and wonder what life would be like if their loved one didn’t get ill, it’s what makes us human. However, it’s what we do with these emotions that will determine our fate. Try to find the root cause of your negative feelings. Do they come from fear of losing your loved one? Is a particular routine not working for you? Regardless of where they’re stemming from, keep open lines of communication with your loved one in order to express and address your concerns too!
Being prepared for others' reactions and stigma
There are stigmas associated with lung cancer, and these won’t go away anytime soon. Be prepared for responses or judgments from others in conjunction with these stereotypes. And remember, lung cancer can strike many different types of people, even those who have never smoked, nor have ever been exposed to cigarette smoke. Allowing these stigmas to infiltrate your life or your loved one’s life can lead to guilt or resentment at a time when positivity is needed. Not everyone will react the same way to news of your loved one’s diagnosis and progress—and that’s okay! Preparing yourself for the many types of opinions, responses, and reactions can help you be ready to deal with anything that comes your way.
Chances are you’re not completely alone on your role of caregiver. Whether it be an offer to make a meal for you or your loved one, or an offer of time and companionship, never be afraid to accept help. Delegating responsibilities, even small ones, can help take stressors off of your plate, and allow you to focus on the issues that matter most. Don’t be afraid to say “no” when you need too, and enlist others who are willing to share the tasks at hand.
Taking care of yourself
Taking care of your body can keep your spirits, mood, and energy levels up to take on whatever comes your way. Additionally, listening to your body can allow you to spot signs of potential problems that could cause long-term issues. Being aware of the signs of depression, burnout, and anxiety, and responding to these can be so important for your overall wellbeing. Reaching out to support groups or counselors if you feel like your health is starting to slip away is a great way to find support and get the help that YOU need too!
Remember, what you are doing is so important, and so are you! It is important to practice self-care and give yourself a break from time to time. Caring for others requires a lot from us, and keeping positive, maintaining our health, and seeking support from others can make everyone happier and healthier in the long run.