Home  Benefits  About  Contact Us  Connect  Client  Blog  Log-In  Member  Blog  Log-In

Help for Caregivers Logo

Help for Caregivers Blog

Keep up with some of the latest helpful information regarding caregiving from reliable sources.

Self-Care: Nice to Do or Necessary to Do?

6/17/2022 12:00:00 AM

Take Care of Yourself under an Umbrella

How are you doing? During the years when my husband and parents needed care, I was often depressed and worn down by juggling sad situations and endless responsibilities. There was never enough energy or time. I’d fall into bed each night, exhausted by all I’d done and worried about all that was yet to do. Overloaded with so many demands, my needs often fell to the bottom of the priority list.

If you’re a caregiver, you know caring for others isn’t easy. Yes, it’s a meaningful and important, kind and generous thing to do. But many times it’s demanding, difficult and downright dreadful. Has it taken a toll on your physical or mental health, on your personal finances, family relationships or work-life? If so, you’re not alone.

Here are some facts: There are over 53 million family caregivers in the US, more than 1 in 5 Americans; 23 million are also employed. Since the pandemic, caregivers spend an average 28 hours/week providing care. The average duration of a caregiving experience is 4 years; many are caregivers for much longer. It’s not hard to see why over half report moderate to high levels of caregiver stress, which erodes the immune system and increases the likelihood of disease, depression or hospitalization. 20 to 30% of family caregivers use prescription drugs for depression, anxiety, and insomnia. That’s 2-3 times as often as the general population.

These facts tell us one important thing: All of us who give care need to take care!

As a nurse, I know this is true. Although I teach people about self-care, sometimes I don’t practice what I preach. Why? There are several reasons.

  • I have no time! 21st century life runs at a fast pace: 24/7/365. There are too many things to do and too little time. Something has to give, and usually it’s my self-care.

  • I feel guilty. Others’ concerns seem more important than mine, or they have more needs and fewer resources. They’re sick, vulnerable and needy; I’m healthy, strong and capable. How can I not help?

  • I think self-care doesn’t matter. I deny the consequences of chronic stress and tell myself I can absorb the pressure, live without a break, or a walk or some time to be with friends. I minimize and deny being overloaded, and overlook the cost of over-functioning. I turn a blind eye to the health risks, and the price I pay in my relationships and work-life.

Thoughts, feelings and choices like these push my needs down and off my priority list. Self-care becomes an unattainable nicety instead of an undeniable necessity. This is not healthy.

How about for you; is self-care a nicety or a necessity? No matter how small, whatever action you take to care for yourself in a healthy way will be good for both you and your loved ones. As you do so much for others, remember to take good care of yourself, too…Jane