It is heartbreaking when someone you love is suffering from a long and severe disease. We do not want to see them suffering and take charge of giving them the best possible care there is.
But while doing so sometimes we may end up neglecting our own needs and health.
Caregiving is an exhausting and long battle. But there are certain things that, if understood, can not only help us to address our needs but also help us be strong for our loved ones.
What are the signs that a caregiver is ignoring their own needs?
Following are some of the signs that you as a caregiver are self-neglect.
Poor mental and physical health
Tending to someone constantly can take a toll on your well-being. You may not get time to cook food for yourself. Therefore you may end up eating junk food or end up skipping meals at times. In both these cases you will end up with poor physical health.
No time to cook also means no time to exercise. Again, if you are not able to exercise on a regular basis, you may end up with poor physical health. Along with these, you may also suffer from constant stress and worry which may lead to poor mental health.
Dealing with a long and severe illness means providing for the medical expenses and treatments of your loved ones. Since you are the caregiver, that burden most of the time falls on you.
Once you have taken charge as a caregiver, you may no longer be able to work full-time. You may end up doing part-time jobs which may or may not be able to pay for all your expenses.
Since most of the medical expenses cost a lot, often caregivers face depressing financial situations.
Sometimes the amount of stress a caregiver is dealing with can make them turn to substances like alcohol. They may also take up bad habits like smoking to deal with the stress. Eventually, they may end up getting addicted to these substances and bad habits
What should a caregiver do to care for themselves?
It is understandable that the caregiver wants to give most of their time to their loved one. But accepting that they too are human and need equal attention for their well-being is the first step.
Along with these following are some of the things a caregiver can do.
Know your limitations
Knowing your limitations and sticking to only those aspects of providing care can help a lot with freeing your time and energy for looking after yourself.
During this extra time, you can then focus on aspects that will improve your mental and physical health.
Eating healthy food, exercising, and meditating will all boost your overall health. The key is to understand that you cannot work 24x7 even if you want to.
Seek help from others
Once you end up being a caregiver, your social life also gets heavily neglected. However, people generally are kind and helpful. It, therefore, becomes your responsibility to reach out to them.
There is no shame in asking for help. Besides, there are all sorts of help - in the form of time, doing certain tasks, financial help, and so on and so forth. Even if you reach out to a friend to do a certain chore, it would lift a little of the burden off your shoulders. So, reach out!
Staying away from bad habits and substances
It is tempting to give in to something bad like alcohol abuse or smoking, that promises to relieve your stress for some time.
But resisting the urge will take you a long way in the journey of self-care. In case, you are already addicted, it is advisable to seek professional help.
As a caregiver, it is important to remember that taking care of your loved ones' health should not come at the cost of your own well-being. Neglecting your own physical and mental health can have long-term consequences. Signs like poor health, finances, and substance abuse should be recognized and addressed immediately. Knowing your limitations, seeking help from others, and staying away from bad habits are some of the things that can help you take care of yourself while caring for your loved ones. Remember, taking care of yourself is not selfish, but rather essential for being a good caregiver.