Caregivers are urged to take care of ourselves. We are likened to those traveling on airplanes with dependents. Put your own air mask on first. Recommendations for self-care can guide us to saner healthier lives. In fact the new spring Circle of Life newsletter (posted on our website www.circleoflifeco-op.com) contains a whole article on this subject. Here is an excerpt:
Family caregivers can follow the lead of professional caregivers by practicing good self-care. This includes:
· Asking for help when you need it! Arranging respite care so you can get a break.
· Getting enough sleep, especially when you are not feeling well
· Getting good nutrition – a healthy and sensible diet
· Keeping your regular medical and dental check ups
· Taking time for regular exercise
· Practicing stress reduction techniques – yoga, mediation, exercise, etc.
· Spending time with friends and family in activities that bring you joy
All well and good; I’m on it. But as a professional caregiver who is also caring for a self who is an artist, I have a few more things I have learned to do to care for my writer soul.
- Work as much as possible with clients in whom I can take delight, who have interests, passions, and experiences with which I can deeply identify.
- Claim a day off, regularly, weekly, religiously. Take it, use it. Say no to work on that day. Stay home, play with the dog, garden, write.
- Diversify exposure to age groups, hang out with little kids and teenagers as well as old folks and sick folks. Keep attuned to the sameness and differences of people at different stages of life.
- Let go. People die, people move away, people forget who I am. All in the circle of life.
- Monitor the size of my tribe. Somewhere I’ve heard that the natural size of tribes maxes out at 150 people. Starting cold, in fifteen minutes, I made a list over 150 people whom I see, pray over, work with, deal with on a personal level in any given month. Given a few hours, I can add a lot more people whom I would grieve were they lost. Given that I think of myself as a hermit, this is probably too much and explains some occasional grumpiness.
- Follow the natural seasons; listen to frog songs, watch the moon.
- Sing and dance. For me, singing can be a chant and a barefoot walk in the grass definitely counts as dancing.
So, my list is not for everyone, but I’m glad to share it with you, especially if you are one of my 150 tribe members!