Several people have asked me about an issue that has impacted them as caregivers: What happens when your own health or physical issues arise? What can a caregiver do when we feel compromised?
This is a major concern and a big reason why learning self-care is so critical.
Caregivers, as a rule, like and need to be responsible, reliable, on top of everything and in control. These qualities are what make you so good at taking care of your loved one(s). However, you should put yourself on your priority list as someone you need to care for and about as well!
Oftentimes, we get sidelined because we have neglected our own needs, and then there are times when getting sidelined happens quite randomly. Instead of letting this be an added stress factor, why not explore the possibilities of such occurrences?
Five Tips to Help You Regroup When You Get Sidelined:
- Be willing to acknowledge that you need help. Is your to-do list out of control? Do you need food in the house? Are you responsible for getting your loved one (or yourself) to a doctor’s appointment,? Do you need to do laundry? Do you need to get children or grandchildren to and from school? Need help picking up prescriptions? Now is the time to create or enact your support system.
- Evaluate your support system. When your to-do list has grown out of control, you have no choice but to reach out. As challenging as it is for caregivers to ask for and receive help, we sometimes have to acknowledge that there is no other choice. This is when you have to assess the people in your life who you can count on in times of need…and they may not be the people you expect.
- Be willing to breathe through the discomfort of asking for help to ensure the best possible outcome for yourself and your loved one(s). Needing help doesn’t feel good. No one likes to feel vulnerable, but when a physical or medical event arises, we are required to reassess our beliefs about asking for help. Aren’t you the first one to offer assistance to your friends in need? Maybe it’s a great opportunity for them to return the favors. Learning to receive support is a vital aspect of self-care.
- Set new boundaries and view your circumstances from a different perspective. We continue to soldier on in our usual style until there is a reason that we cannot. When your health and well-being are impacted, you have an opportunity (unwelcome though it may be) to make changes in habits and expectations that have developed.
- Address living arrangements. Depending on the seriousness of your circumstances, if you’re living with someone who is dependent upon you, this may also become an issue that needs to change, even if only temporarily.
It is a given that changes in our lives occur, and we need to find compassionate and respectful coping mechanisms for ourselves as well as those we care for. Not every solution may be ideal, but we can always look for options that will result in the greater good. Plan carefully and explore your options so that you can feel more secure, comfortable and ultimately, better cared for.
You can also reach out for added guidance by accessing chapter one of Take Back Your Life: A Caregiver’s Guide to Finding Freedom in the Midst of Overwhelm. You don’t need to get sidelined to seek help, support and encouragement.
Take as good care of yourself as you do of those you love.
And we breathe…