The importance of self-care for caregivers


As a caregiver, do you ever feel the weight of everyday responsibilities? Do you feel the weight compounded whenever there are out-of-the-ordinary stressors? If you have ever been on an airplane, you would have heard the familiar safety instruction: ‘In case of emergency, yellow oxygen masks will drop down in front of you. Please make sure to secure your own mask before assisting others.’

As a caregiver, it may sound counter-intuitive to help yourself before helping a child or someone in need. Yet caring for ourselves allows us to refill our energy, creativity, wonder, and tolerance so that we can continue to give quality care to those who need us in the long-term. Self-Care gives us the Can-Do for the things that we Know-How and Want-To do. If this airplane safety instruction is important enough to be said before every flight, perhaps we should think more often about self-care when we give care.

As the world swirls around us all and the holiday season kicks off, Jennifer Merlino, MA, LPC, Summit School’s Licensed Professional Counselor, developed these wonderfully doable strategies to make Self-Care a regular priority.

Self-Care: Why Making Time for Yourself Matters

Parenting can be rewarding, but it can be stressful, too! Adapting to new realities at work, home and school, while managing your everyday to-do’s can feel like you don’t get a minute to yourself. In a world, where you and just about everything is immediately accessible, taking time for yourself is crucial. However, self-care is often interpreted as unrealistic or even selfish.

What Is Self-Care and Why Is It Important?

Self-care is any action that you take to improve your health and well-being. It can be thought of as a preventative approach to staying physically and mentally healthy. Some examples of self-care, such as eating healthy, regular exercise, and sleeping well are all practices that can help you to feel your best, so that you can accomplish everything you need to do. It’s important to take care of yourself first in order to be able to take care of others.

When we neglect our own needs, we may experience “burn out,” which can impact how we feel physically and emotionally. Some signs that you may be stressed and in need of self-care:

- Headaches, pain, fatigue

- Change in sleeping or eating habits

- Loss of concentration, poor memory

- Feeling unhappy, anxious, lonely, unmotivated

Self-care is an act of compassion towards yourself that allows you to re-fuel and be the best version of yourself that you can be. The best way to teach self-care to your child(ren) is to model it yourself. Self-care can teach you and your child how to respond to challenges and stressful situations.


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