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Lookout for #1
Lookout for # 1? That's not what caregivers do. Is it?
Caring for aging family members is most unselfish. It's the polar opposite of putting oneself first. Like any noble undertaking, however, caregiving can be carried too far with negative consequences for all involved. But, how do you draw the line on caring? And, how do you "back off" when even total dedication isn't enough?
Being a caregiver for aging parents can be highly emotional. Unfortunately, emotions often cloud reasoning. Caregivers need to appreciate that minding one's own health and happiness, is not selfish. It's smart. There's a huge difference between being a dedicated caregiver and being a compulsive one. Compulsive caregivers often burn out, become distressed, and even develop physical ailments.
If you feel that you're headed down this road, it's time to rethink your approach and reclaim sovereignty over your life. Start by setting priorities. As a caregiver you need to understand that some things just aren't important. You've got to let go of somethings; let lesser things slide. Key in on what's important: your own physical and mental health. This means making time for exercise, healthy meals, rest, recovery, and sleep.
It's important to create some quiet time for self-reflection; time to clear and calm the mind. Make time for things that you enjoy doing; that bring you happiness. These can be as simple as an evening walk; listening to your favorite music; or, attending a movie. If you perceive these simple pleasures as being selfish, you'll resist and put them off. Don't!
If you are a caretaker by nature, it is important to remember that you can't give what you don't have. When you're low on energy and strength, it's time to make renewing and re-energizing a top priority! Do so, and you will find that you have more to give others.