Take Care of Yourself

Taking care of yourself can sometimes be one of the hardest things to do.  As the caregiver, you are caring for someone else, and when things are getting tough, it is hard to remember to care for your own health.  There can be many sleepless nights, and too many of those strung together can cause problems in your health.  It may also become difficult to eat healthy or exercise.  Let me remind you that if you are not healthy, you cannot effectively care for your loved one.

I am so guilty of this.  I was trying to keep my part-time job, take care of my small children and contribute to mom’s care.  Most of the last five years were not a problem, but during the times that she was in the hospital, I did not take care of myself at all.  I wish that I had some magical formula to make it all work.  Get this many hours of sleep, eat this many calories and do these exercises and you will be just fine.  However, it is never that simple.

You know your body better than anyone else.  You know where to focus your energy to be productive.  You know what your body does if you don’t get enough sleep.  You know how your body reacts to junk or comfort foods.

It will take some extra will power, but it will be very important that you work harder to stay healthy through each tough time even as it requires more of you.  I know that I would be in a healthier place right now, if I’d only had more willpower.

Sometimes I am an emotional eater, and emotional eating came into play this year as mom was in the hospital the last three times.  I have gained weight, and I don’t feel as well as I did when I was taking better care of myself.

You are not the only one to suffer if you don’t take care of yourself.  Do you really think that the one you are caring for doesn’t notice that you are getting run down?  Guess what, it causes them to worry about you.  Most of us have been caring for someone that we love dearly, and they love us deeply in return.  Of course they know.

In addition to your patient needing you to stay healthy, the rest of your family and friends want you to be healthy too.  If you are completely spent, you have nothing left for any other area of life. So here is the thing:  if another close family member will stay at the hospital so that you can get some much needed rest, do it.  If some friends want to cook for you when you get home, let them.  If your patient asks you to go to the doctor because they have noticed something, go to the doctor.

In the majority of cases, there is help available through family and friends.  If it is genuinely offered, give yourself permission to take that help and keep yourself as healthy as possible.

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