Helping Shouldn’t Hurt: Self-Care for Care-Providers

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“… if I say more, I would be insulting my father.”  My friend’s voice trailed into silence, which stayed hung in eternity.  I began to understand what my sister,  the care-provider for our father, would once in a while share with me, amidst tears.

Signing up to be a care-provider for a parent can be one of the toughest jobs.  Care-giving could be physical, financial, or both. Parents, who have always run the show, find it unpleasant when roles are reversed.  If the caregiver has other responsibilities, such as a job and taking care of his or her own family, the task becomes even more demanding.   As a care-provider, the saddest scene is when you have to always respond to well-wishers about how your parent is doing, but no one asks how you are coping or if they can help in any way.  As this continues, the challenges of your assignment takes its toll on your inner child.

A care-giver could be a person taking care of a parent, partner, a child with special needs or a client.  Whether personal or professional, a care-provider is the emotional support for the person they tend to, who feels stronger for having someone to take care of them.

However, as a care-provider, you unknowingly begin to resent your role and feel trapped, because of the infant-like demands made of you. Remember, when you are running on empty, you cannot fill anyone’s cup.  Self-care, therefore, is of the utmost importance for care-providers.

A short list of effective self-care follows:

  • Rest is the best medicine.  Just as every pump slows down with time and stops working, so does the one in our body – your heart.  Give your heart a break, in a way that will help it repair itself and remain strong. The following yogic postures rejuvenate your heart, so that you can really rest well.  While in the inverted pose, use a support to help keep your legs up. This pose helps heal your heart, calm your mind and relax your body.
  • Laughter is the next best medicine. If there is nothing to laugh about in your life, watch a funny video every day and laugh.
  • Fluids will keep you energized.  Seventy-five percent of your body is water, which is essential to detoxify and hydrate.  Soft drinks and alcohol are not recommended fluids.
  • Nutrients come from food that is less than three days old.  Enjoy at least one meal that you’ve cooked yourself or that’s cooked by someone who cares about you.  
  • Meditate because sitting in silence helps you get in touch with your strength. Do it for a minute before bed and right after you wake up.

Do one thing that makes you happy for at least 1 minute to 15 minutes every day.  Take care of yourself, so that you can be better at your role as a care-provider.

 

Keya Murthy is an author, healer, life coach.

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