You'll find a regularly recurring theme on this blog -- self care for the caregiver. The vital import of this concept cannot be stressed often enough, since it can help to keep a caregiver strong and in balance while providing the care necessary for their loved one. This self-care can take many forms, but the simple act of nurturing yourself, providing little "treats" for an emotional, mental health boost, finding quiet moments of pre-planned respite when you feel your composure crumbling, reminders of all the ways that life is good and concentrating on that goodness in a tangible way, centering yourself through prayer, meditation, relaxation -- these are basically what self-care is about.
I would recommend to all caregivers that you create a "comfort drawer" or basket for yourself, containing items that bring you calm, comfort, and simple pleasure. The types of items to include will vary widely depending on individual tastes, but here are some ideas: aromatherapy lotion or body creme (a lavender scent is very calming and balancing for most folks, or perhaps orange is right for you), a little book of inspirational quotes or daily meditations, bath salts or oils, calming tea such as chamomile, green tea, or mint. You can also put in some comfort food (think emergency chocolate, here!) but try to stay with healthy, life affirming things as much as possible. You can really have fun with this idea and get as wild and crazy as you want. You can even wrap some items up so that you surprise yourself when you open the drawer or basket for comfort. It's your comfort, so only you can really decide what belongs in this sacred spot. The point is to make some effort to give yourself support and nurturing, available easily and when you need it. Sometimes, just the act of creating of such a secret cache of comfort starts the pleasure rolling. Remind yourself that you are enough. You deserve good things that bring pleasure. Caring for yourself in this way enriches not only your own life, but that of your loved one and all those around you. Create an oasis of comfort today, so that it is waiting for you the next time you need some extra tender loving care.
For more suggestions, check out my favorite products in my Caregiver Resource store by clicking here. (Then click on the category Self Care Products on the right.)
Karen is a compassionate, enthusiastic student of life, who cared for her mother for 17 years. She brings her insights, compassion, experience and desire to share knowledge and healing to this ongoing conversation with others on the caregiving path. If you are caring for a parent, spouse, friend or other loved one this site offers sanity-saving tips, open-hearted self-care ideas, and an open forum for discussion, connection and sharing resources for the journey.
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