When you’re a full-time or part-time caregiver, you’ll generally find that looking after other people takes up most of your energy. Being a caregiver is an incredibly important and rewarding job, whether you’re just trying to be there for someone however you can, or you actively devote your life to making someone else’s easier.
However, there is a downside to devoting all your time to someone else – you never have a moment to focus on yourself, and what you need.
While there’s nothing wrong with being selfless and generous with your time, the inability to enjoy a little time out can have some very serious effects on your health. We all need to rest and rejuvenate at times and ignoring “me time” could mean that you’re at greater risk of suffering from everything from migraines, to obesity, strokes, and insomnia.
Here are just some of the reasons why it may be a good idea to put your caregiver role to one side every now and again and focus on yourself for a change.
It Clears Your Head and Helps you De-Stress
As wonderful as it can be to look after another human being – particularly when you see the impact your care has – it’s also incredibly stressful. Worrying about someone else, and doing daily tasks for them can be draining, and there’s nothing wrong with feeling like you need a break sometimes. Caregivers tend to pull too much onto themselves, which can leave them feeling bogged down and overwhelmed. If you’re always stressed and exhausted, then you can’t be the best version of yourself.
Having “me time” doesn’t mean that you have to abandon your post as a caregiver or forget about the people that need you. Instead, it can be as simple as sitting down for ten minutes with a cup of freshly-brewed coffee. Not only will your favorite drink give you time to recuperate, but the antioxidants in fresh coffee beans can also replenish some of the energy you’ve used throughout the day.
It Helps with Solving Problems
There are plenty of ways in which being a caregiver can sometimes seem like an insurmountable challenge. Everything from organizing your schedule, to giving someone the support they need can seem more difficult on some days than others. When you feel your tasks starting to get on top of you, this could be a sign that you’re in desperate need of some “me time.”
At the end of the day, your brain is just another muscle. Use it too often, and you’ll start to feel exhausted. Taking a moment to rest and recuperate gives your mind and your emotions a moment to reset so that you’re ready to tackle problems with a fresh perspective when you approach them again. In fact, the more you take the time to look after your mind and emotions, the easier it will be for you to complete the tasks that arise as part of your caregiver role.
It Ensures You Get to Know Yourself
It may sound strange, but it’s not uncommon for caregivers to lose themselves in the people they’re supporting. The more time you take looking after someone, scheduling your day around their needs, and focusing on their goals, the more you forget about yourself. In fact, you may eventually get to a point where you no longer know who you are, or what you want to get out of life. While there’s something very honorable about devoting yourself to another person, it’s worth remembering that you have a life too. It’s okay to have your own goals and ambitions, and it’s important to give yourself time to get to know what you want.
Having some me time will give you a chance to learn the important things about yourself that you might have begun to forget as a caregiver. You may even be able to evaluate yourself from a clearer perspective and make changes to your approach so that you can become a more successful person in the future.
It Makes You More Fun to Be Around
As a caregiver, you already meet our description for a pretty incredible person. However, it’s fair to say that you’re only human. We’re all our own worst critics, and over time, you might find that a lack of rest and relaxation begins to make you feel exhausted and overwhelmed. In fact, you may even find yourself burning out, or unable to cope with your daily tasks.
The people you care for, more often than not, will understand that you need a break sometimes. They don’t expect you to be a superhero, even if you may appear that way to them at times. Taking some time to yourself helps you to avoid the overwhelm and manage your mood so that your feelings of exhaustion don’t make you so stressed and miserable that you can’t enjoy what you do anymore. As a rejuvenated person, you may find that you’re actually more fun to be around and have an easier time of preserving your relationships.
It Makes You Healthier
Finally, perhaps the most important reason to schedule “me time” into your schedule, is that it will make you a healthier person. Ultimately, your body is only designed to accomplish so much in any given day. Of course, as a caregiver, you’re probably an expert in pushing yourself beyond your limits. No matter how much you might expect of yourself, you’re not a machine, which means that you need some time to recuperate if you want to be the best version of yourself.
As we mentioned above, a life without time to rest could mean that you end up suffering from an increased risk of everything from depression to heart attacks and premature death. For a healthy life, the importance of me time really can’t be overestimated.
Make Time for More “Me Time”
When you’re living the busy life of a caregiver, it can be incredibly difficult to find any time for yourself. However, it all starts with simply committing to a few minutes each day. Start with just ten minutes drinking a cup of coffee, sitting in silence, or relaxing by yourself so that your mind has enough time to recharge. After you’ve got that ten minutes down, you can start to schedule more “me time” into your calendar when, and as you can.
Take it one step at a time, and you’ll get there.
Caroline Black is a dedicated caregiver with experience looking after a friend with Crohn’s syndrome. When she’s not doing what she can to make life easier for her friend, she likes to write about health, wellness, and mental strength.