Are you a primary care giver to an elderly parent or a relative? Are you a parent? Are you smack-in-the-middle of both generations where you find yourself as a primary care giver to a parent/s and your children? Are you a workaholic? Is your partner a workaholic? Do you hold a demanding professional position where you are devoting so much of yourself and your time to nurture the role, or the organisation?
Whichever role you play, it’s challenging to say the least, especially if you have not struck a balance between looking after them and looking after yourself.
You can get so caught up in the ‘importance’ of the role as a care giver and forget that you are your primary care giver as well.
Society and our respective cultures have conditioned us to believe that looking after oneself is being selfish. As individuals we all need looking after and by this I don’t mean financially or even physically. Our inner-self needs love, nurturing, development, spirituality, space, peace. However we tend to put ourselves in the back seat in this area as we feel that our sole responsibility is to give love, to nurture, to care, to assist another in their growth.
To be in a position to give unselfishly, unconditionally and with pure joy as opposed to performing a ‘duty’, you need to ensure that ‘YOU’ are being well looked after, that your cup is full and over-flowing. As a care-giver you never want to feel resentful of your role or stagnant no matter how pure it is, e.g. as a parent or as a child. But… it’s only natural to feel that way and by recognising that you are a person, an individual in a very, very important role, you also need to care for yourself. No-one but you can do this for you.
So what are the ways in which you can take care of yourself other than the obvious grooming (hair, nails, clothes, etc)? All these are great and the first things we go-to to feel better and up-lifted, but they have a temporary affect. My personal recommendations for long-term fulfillment and constant feeling of being abundant are:
- Self-development: Is there something you desire to learn or be other than what you already know and do? e.g. a particular dance, an instrument, and book you’ve been wanting to read, a subject you are curious about but have no time to research and learn, an exhibition that will enhance you, visiting a new place to experience a new culture, a course. Making new friends, a new hobby, or a one-time experience of sorts. I love to listen to podcasts. There are many that are educational and/or uplifting. My current favourites are ‘So Money‘ by Farnoush, ‘Magic Lessons‘ by Elizabeth Gilbert and ‘Make it Happen’ by Swamini Supriyananda.
- Keeping physically fit: not necessarily with a goal of loosing weight or gaining weight. Just staying active, healthy & fit. Challenge yourself and try a new activity, have a routine/regime that works for you. A 30 minute walk 2-3 times a week, a yoga session, zumba, weights, pilates, bootcamp…
- Meditation: start with 5 minutes in a day, either in the morning or at night; at lunch time if you’re lucky. Try different meditation techniques to see what jives with you, that makes you want to spend that time in the day to do it. At the moment for me it’s just watching my breathing to see how deep I can breathe in to my core and let out then to breathe in to my 3rd eye. Meditation can sound very daunting, and I am still working on it myself. When you do sit still so many thoughts cross your mind and all the things you need to accomplish. Smile at these thoughts, people, tasks, etc and say – ‘I’ll come back to you’ and let them pass.
- Spirituality: follow your heart and your instincts and let it lead you to a path that resonates with you.
- Community Service: Okay – so now you think I’ve lost the plot. I’m asking you to ‘give’ again! Yes I am. I’m asking you to be a part of a community at large and be part of a bigger picture. Connect with other people around you and share in something beautiful together. Being a care-give can be quite lonely. Community service is a group effort.
So how do you find the time for any of this? How do you deal with the sense of ‘guilt’ that may arise?
Juggle your schedule and routine. Wake up a little earlier; assess your schedule to see if there is something you can let go off, or something that can be delegated.
Explain to your ‘dependents’ that you need some ‘you’ time and you will be back with more to give and with more positive energy to share. Children need to learn from example. They need to also learn that self-care is important so that they don’t grow up forgetting themselves as well.
Wishing you loads of guilt-less fun on this journey… 🙂