It’s common in today’s society to suddenly find one’s self in the role of caregiver to a friend or family member. Caregiving is emotionally charged on top of being another full-time job with a host of responsibilities.
I just finished setting up a Caring Bridge account for yet another friend beginning their journey with cancer. It causes a heaviness that I bring with me to work and other parts of my day. How can I go on with my life lightly as my friend is fighting to keep hers?
Many of us have experience with loss and grief but that doesn’t make it any easier. I have been volunteering with hospice for decades, yet I still go through the inevitable cycle of grief that comes with the territory.
Hospice encourages supporting caregivers with respite; any kind of respite you can offer: time away for a walk, an ear to listen without offering solutions; a precooked meal; or any simple gesture of support.
I believe the best thing a caregiver can do is take care of one’s self first. I know it sounds counterintuitive but it is similar to what they tell you on the airplane about the oxygen mask… put it on yourself before putting it on your baby because you can’t help your baby if you can’t breath.
Some examples of taking care of yourself in the caregiver role include accepting help every time it is offered, allowing yourself to take breaks, taking the time to do something you enjoy, getting enough sleep and having a confidant.
Yet, how are we to handle that heavy ache at work? How can we stop the crusade we find ourselves on to take on the medical aspects as well as handle the other challenges of life such as if there are young children and financial issues and animals and…and…and…
One client shared, “I feel very purposeful caring for my mom yet the one thing I crave is time to sit alone and think about how things are unfolding.” While another client shared, “I am so busy between work and caregiving that when I do have a free moment all I want to do is go wander aimlessly around the mall and just look at and touch everything but I feel so guilty wasting precious time.” These things may seem simple but they are not; they are important survival tactics and in the end will make each moment more valuable.
Balancing the demands of one’s career with the demands of the other aspects of one’s life fills the hours of the day easily. Adding the role of caregiver means needing help. Therefore, finding balance among the important roles in your life is critical and the best way to take care of you.
How are you taking care of yourself so work and life are balanced?
Coaching is a great way to take care of one’s self and many coaches offer a free introductory session.