One of the hardest and yet most rewarding things that a human being can do is care for another person. Whether you are an adult child caring for an elderly parent, a parent caring for a child with additional needs or you are caring for others in your line of employment, it’s important to know that what you are doing is a big deal. It’s not easy to put the needs of someone else before your own all the time, and often the question gets raised – and quickly squashed – when it comes to working out whether you are looking after yourself, too. After all, why would you think you need looking after when there are clearly other people with a greater need than you?
While that’s a noble thought, you are still a person. You still have needs, both basic and complex, and you still need to take care of yourself. Pouring all your effort into caring for a disabled child is going to be your life for the rest of it, but you can’t be the best carer that you can be if you’re not caring for yourself, too. If your health broke down or your stress levels peaked, how would your charge cope? You’d be doing yourself more harm than good in the long-term, so it’s important to get a handle on your own health and wellbeing as early as possible. Caring is stressful. It’s wonderful, rewarding, will make you laugh and cry, but it’s stressful. There is a continuous pressure to do the best job possible and ensure that you are meeting the right needs at all times. This pressure can crank up your stress levels, and if you are coping with situations such as aggression, financial difficulties and disturbances at night time, you’re going to find it hard.
Taking care of yourself has to start from the top down. Your mental health is important, and you need to seek the right support for your situation from day one. You should also be ensuring that you are caring for your diet and exercise. Eating meals that are balanced as well as a healthy amount of water, along with supplements such as turmeric, you can make sure your energy is at its peak and you are able to care for your charge. Physical and mental health can break down relatively quickly, and sometimes you do have to make sure that you come first. Respite services and additional carers can help you to manage a balance of your own and you can speak to social services to see what support there is to help you. Even if this means regular breaks to allow you to recharge your batteries; anything can help a carer under pressure.
It may take some time to swallow your pride, but if you need help or you are not coping for whatever reason, then you need to ask for help and do so with a smile. Your whole life will often surround those that you care for, but let’s not forget you.