Constantly being there for others can be both physically and emotionally draining. Always putting others ahead of yourself can leave you feeling exhausted and worn down… and yet, it can be hard to stop!
If you are taking care of others, whether a family member or supporting someone at work, sometimes you need to “put your mask on first before trying to help others!” We don’t always self-identify as a “caregiver”, but by recognizing this as a role we embody in our day-to-day lives, we are able to carve out time to give ourselves the care we need.
No matter who you are caring for, or what level of care you are providing, it is important to prioritize yourself. Of course you want to uplift those around you, but by caring for yourself as well, it only makes it easier for you to provide support to others! And besides that, you just deserve it.
Did you know that, when you de-prioritize yourself to focus on supporting others, it can lead to:
- Conflicts in the family
- Strain financially
- Social withdrawal
- Stress and burnout
- Irritability and fatigue
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain and poor eating habits
- Failure to exercise
- Neglecting medical requirements for self
This is just to list a few.
It is only when you are performing optimally that you can effectively help and care for others. As a people-pleaser or primary carer for loved ones, we tend to put ourselves second, and take ourselves for granted. Once we take care of our own needs, the people we are caring for will benefit too.
Being an emotional support is an emotional roller coaster. So how can you take responsibility for your own care?
Eliminate these barriers…
FIRST…Overcome your emotional barriers: It is not selfish to put your needs first, and don’t be overwhelmed by thinking of your own needs. Sometimes dealing with a sense of guilt can be difficult when putting yourself first - but understand that this is for the betterment of you and the ones who receive your care.
SECOND…Overcome misplaced responsibility: Often “caregivers” struggle with misconceptions that place upon them an overwhelming responsibility, leading to guilt and stress. Remember, these feelings are self-imposed.
THIRD…Let go of negative self-talk: Being overwhelmed leaves caregivers with a sense of swimming against the tide and the feeling of “never enough” takes over; suddenly all dialogue is negative, creating a barrier and unnecessary anxiety. Be self-aware and remember your mind will believe what you tell it – so watch what you say!
Incorporate these tips into your routine:
Ask for and accept help: Create a list of things or errands that you can entrust to others to lighten your load. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and also accept help.
Establish your capacity: Don’t feel guilty, there are some things you can do and some things you just can’t, no matter how hard you try – that is okay! You don’t have to be perfect.
Look at realistic goals: Bite size your tasks and prioritize these tasks in a list. Where possible establish routines.
Say no for the sake of self-care: Don’t feel bad to say no to tasks that are physically and emotionally draining: like hosting elaborate holiday meals.
Stay connected: Joining a support group, seeking support from your family, or even a therapist will help you and provide you with the encouragement and validation you need. You don’t have to go it alone when you formulate problem-solving strategies. Nonjudgmental emotional support is a great outlet for you or anyone for that matter.
Create some healthy habit goals: Start small but be consistent…here are some ideas.
- Download an app or timer and drink the right amount of water every day.
- Don’t skip meals, no matter how hectic it gets.
- Set aside time for a 10-minute brisk walk outdoors.
- Establish a morning routine, get up 20 minutes early and spend time with yourself.
- Before bed or in the morning listen to guided relaxation recordings or meditation.
- Set a weekly goal of doing one activity that you find meaningful and enjoyable.
- At the end of the day, indulge in a self-care routine, where you pamper yourself and show some self-love.
What we suggest?
As you step out of your relaxing shower or bath, remember to moisturize yourself all over, and we really do mean all over. Even your intimate skin needs care, and we recommend using Rejucream to do the job. Read a book, meditate, or practice gratitude journaling while sipping a calming tea before you drift off is sometimes the best care you can give yourself.
You are not alone, there are others out there sharing a similar experience. Be compassionate to yourself and be smart. Put your mask on first.