Self-care is a powerful caring tool. It can prevent burnout, vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue, not to mention it’s a vital part of maintaining your general wellbeing. “Not only will this help you feel better and more able to cope – it will increase your capacity to attend to your loved one’s needs,” adds Wendy.
You might be convinced of self-care’s importance, but still wondering how anyone in a caring role can realistically make time for it?
We asked 4 caregivers to share the small rituals that made a big difference to their mental health:
Get out of the house
“Definitely take time and get out of the house, and try and clear your head. Because it’s just so valuable. It can change your perception for the rest of the day.” - Geraldine’s daughter died at the age of 34 after living for 5 years with a rare form of stomach cancer.
Talk to someone
“A lot of self-care I think is very important now - to have a release. To be able to sit and cry and talk to someone who can support me when I’m having a shit day. Someone who can sit by my side and say, ‘Hey, you’re not alone’.” Alia’s mother is 61. She has late stage emphysema as well as cancer.
Take a long shower
“One day the pal care nurse asked when was the last time I showered - it had been 2 days. She gently and kindly told me to shower while she was there to tend to Mum.” - Amanda cared for her Mum for 12 months who had uterine cancer.
It can even be as small as a cup of tea
“You need to take care of yourself. Even ringing a friend every day, a cup of tea, or taking your dog for a walk.” - Beate cared for her mother who died from pancreatic cancer aged 74.
Plus, a few more self-care ideas to get you started:
- Connect with nature, even if it’s just spending a few minutes in your garden or on your balcony;
- Take some rest and nourishment;
- Keep a puzzle somewhere easy to access, like the dining table or kitchen bench, and spend a few minutes each day completing it;
- Access therapeutic services - this could include talking to a Violet Guide or,
- Connect socially, whether it’s a walk with a friend or just a quick phone call.