Dearest Family Caregiver
Do you understand how valuable you are? Because of you your loved one has a special place to go, a safe place where they are well provided for and receiving special individualized care they could not receive anywhere else. You understand their challenges and their fears in a way that only someone with love and connection would. Your dedication to the care and management of your loved ones mental health is what adds that special factor required to draw courage for this sometimes difficult journey.
All of those factors are what make you so priceless!
With all that you do sometimes you are not recognized. You can become part of your loved ones care and easily mold into the surroundings, focusing on the needs of your family and friends as well rather than yourself. Sometimes asking for help seems like an impossible task as you don't want to be a burden to others but it is a necessary action to take. What happens if you are overworked and suffer burnout? You would more than likely wind up in bed, either a hospital bed or your own. Caregivers face health challenges everyday as a result of neglect of their own healthcare and well care. Self-care has to be a part of your caregiver toolkit.
No more putting off taking care of you. No more neglect of your health, your needs, and your desires. You must put you first.
What is it?
Spirituality - Build your life on a foundation of your spiritual self. God is a spiritual force that will never deplete. John 4:14"but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life."
Environment - You must invest a place to go where you will have peace and be undisturbed. You can do this by using candles, soft relaxing music, nature sounds, and relaxing Epsom salt baths. If you have access to a pool swimming has been shown as a great relaxation therapy as well as a great work out. Your bedroom and temperature in there can affect the quality of your sleep. A comfortable temperature of 62 degrees has been shown to give a night of restful sleep. Look for natural sleep aides to help to bring on a natural sleep.
Love - Love for yourself is the biggest act of kindness you can extend to yourself. Say it often, "I love you", repeat it throughout the course of your day. Set up alarms on your cell phone that play a sound bite of your voice saying kind and loving words to yourself. For example: "Are you having a rough day? Remember I love you and it does get better". Set it up to play every other hour on days when you find you have the most challenges. Above all let love guide how you interact with your loved one and with others. Sometimes when we feel overwhelmed we can become short tempered or "snappy", remember to take inventory as to why you may be irritable. Adjust accordingly.
Faith- Belief that God loves you and will never forsake you. Belief in your total self and all that you are capable of. Believe in your abilities as an individual. Believe in your ability to learn new and challenging things. Believe your circumstance is manageable. Believe that all things work for God's glory and for your strengthening. Belief that your loved one will be okay in the long run and that if things change you will be strong enough to handle that too. Believe you will get everything out of your today. Belief in your ability to be grateful for what you do have, and what you can do.
Compassion- Having compassion for yourself and for others you come into contact with. Compassion for yourself and the new journey you are now taking. Have compassion for your loved one who may be suffering, and although sometimes can be in a difficult mood, is the one in the midst of the symptoms. Have compassion for the doctors, nurses, and professional Psych teams as they are all individuals and have to possibility of suffering with "Compassion Fatigue" as well.
Affirmations - "I will be patient with myself as I learn today...I will be open to learning new things...I will listen more than I speak...I am loved and appreciated...I am not my failures, my failures serve me...I will treat myself kindly today...I will be patient and show patience today...I will take time for me today...I am deserving of quiet time...I am deserving of alone time...I will rest today".
Respite - Respite is your friend. However scary it may be to leave the care of your loved one in someone else’s hand, you must do the hard thing. Start in baby steps. Go to the respite facility you have researched and chosen, sit there with your loved one, observe the interactions with the staff, talk with other family caregivers or residents there to get a natural and true feel for the security and integrity of the staff. Go with your loved one and stay as they become familiar with the new environment, this will eventually be an extension of the care you give and being there will give you a sense of security when you decide to leave them for short periods of time. Move up the amount of time that you spend away from your loved one which will set your loved ones mind and your own at ease. Respite is a very important part of your life as a family caregiver, it will allow you to rest, to assume as close to a normal life as you can and give you and your loved one some time away from one another.
Enjoyment- Find out what you once loved and do it every opportunity you get. Make appointments in your calendar for it; go out of your way to commit to scheduling it into your day, week, or weekend. You are your own priority. If you don't make yourself number one chances are you will not be your number one priority. Make time for you and your enjoyment.
At Homagi we wish you the greatest of courage, the ultimate amount of meekness, and the wisdom to know when to tap into whichever one is necessary at the time of need. We will continue praying for you. May God bless you with whatever makes you successful!