There’s no time for self-care
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Sometimes it feels like the more work you take on, the more people expect of you. You offer to help with something once and suddenly it becomes your responsibility forever. You spend all day every day taking care of other people and then they get angry when you try to take care of yourself. There’s not even time for you to do the basics, like cleaning up or running errands. It’s the perfect situation to grow resentment on both sides.

It might feel like you can’t stop, but sometimes you have to. Exhaustion takes its toll on your body – especially your immune system – and can make you more vulnerable to all sorts of ailments. I hardly ever get sick and typically bounce back quickly, but it’s always when I’m overextended that I’m floored by the virus that’s going around. I’m the queen of psychosomatic illnesses – when I’m under too much stress for too long I end up with stomach issues, headaches, and aches with no discernible cause. That’s a clear signal that, no matter how busy I feel, I’d better do something different.

When I say that I don’t have time to do something, I’m really saying that I’m opting not to make that something a priority in my life. When I start getting tension headaches and stress-induced stomach aches, I know I’d better re-prioritize things. Self-care isn’t optional. It’s not like the Spanish classes that seem like a cool idea, but never quite make it onto the list. Our biological needs – the things required for survival – go beyond eating, sleeping, and going to the bathroom. They include the things that we need to do to remain functioning people. Sure, making collages doesn’t seem like something I need to do, but what I’m actually doing is an activity that helps me sort through my emotions, express my identity, and find some peace.

We all have those little activities that help us find balance. As a loving caregiver, all the ‘extra’ activities drop off the priority list. For me, self-care means figuring out what activities aren’t really ‘extra.’

Written by Cori Carl
As Director, Cori is an active member of the community and regularly creates resources for people providing care.

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19 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this article. I have to say I feel guilt when it comes to some self-care. Not the little things, but I’m supposed to go away next week (a visit to my home in another state to take care of many many things) and I feel guilty as hell. Mostly because my dad has some health issues and procedures this week. Although my sister has agreed to handle everything when it comes to my dad and his dog there is no plan per se. I don’t know if someone will stay 24/7 or ensure dad eats or the dog is walked. My sister just keeps telling me to go and I’m still intending to. I realize once I drive away on Saturday it is out of my control and that I’m planner, but I’m feeling completely stressed.

    Reply
  2. yes to this: “Exhaustion takes its toll on your body – especially your immune system – and can make you more vulnerable to all sorts of ailments.”

    Reply
  3. Patricia Lynn Blackstone Cramer thought of you when reading this article. There may be some relevant information on this website.

    Reply
  4. *Treating myself to Tide once in a while instead of the store brand laundry detergent = “self care”. *Periodically taking my husband to get a pedicure so I don’t have to trim his toenails = “self care” *Putting a pillow over my head = “self care” (yikes, that was therapeutic to type that = “self care”).

    Reply
  5. Self care? I try but I usually get interrupted. I get my showers very early or very late! Sleep~broken but I get some sleep. Took care of Dad & got NO SLEEP! Just Mom & I now…she’s deaf now & has dementia Everyday is hard. She can be nice one minute & mean & even violent the next! I’ve gotten upset many times! Then I feel bad & tell myself “It’s not her” This site has helped me A LOT to understand what my dear Mother is going through. And I’m not alone! My thought…
    You can’t reason with someone whose reason has fled.

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  6. I get a shower everyday because of our small shower, I get my husband shaved and in we go together, after I dry him and dress him, I go back in and rinse off all the soapy mess all over me. I have not however in 7 years had a solo shower.

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  7. Well, I refuse to go without a shower, go without sleep any longer. Getting so sedentary it’s not funny. Gained so much weight. I did something about it. I am now using a Nursing Home. Doesn’t mean I love my Mother any less. I am only one person. With the help of awesome women. But those women leave after 5 hour shifts. I have asked of themselves so much to keep us going these three years. It was time for something to give. So now, I can say I hate it. Yet I found just within 3 days my strength is better. Sleeping better. No noises waking me thru the night. Yes I had a few kinks the first day after the first night with the home. I had two good friends with help of some awesome professionals help me. Talked with some in the home. Today I will talk with the front office. I see the light at the end of the exhausted tunnel. Now, I repeat, I still don’t like it. It’s what I have to do to survive.
    Calm and peaceful. Be diligent.
    Be firm. Help out when you’re there at the home. Understand the workers at the home. Explain to the person you are caregiving for. Whether they understand our not. Go home and rest. Blessings to all who take this on. Delete to all who don’t. Regardless of family or Friends.

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  8. Lol….what’s self care? I count my blessings if I get a daily shower

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    • I am lucky if I remember to take a shower in a week.
      It sounds crazy but it’s true.
      There’s always something.

      Reply
  9. Terry Pena Gasperino, sound familiar?

    Reply
    • indeed…I feel exhausted all the time on levels I didn’t even know existed…

      Reply
  10. I am learning to take a break when I feel too much stress. I think it is better to be silent than talk or write words that are seen in public. An upset person can easily react. This turns into foolish behavior that does not reflect my regular thoughts. Cheers to being silent.

    Reply
    • That’s great! People here are free to use pen names or post anonymously, for the times when you want to share and keep things a little more private.

      Reply
  11. Carers are expected to do it all with nothing, like we are super people. as I have been for 30 years taking care of various family members ( and continue to do so ) I find ive hit the wall ( burn out) medically recognised but I still am doing it all alone.

    We the willing led by the unknowing are doing the imposslibe for the sometimes ungrateful , used to be the nurses lament but now i think it fits us.

    Reply
  12. I get it. Breakfast with my BFF. ORCHESTRA. Playing my clarinets. Yes, plural. Bass .
    B flat and A clarinets. Walks in woods.

    Reply

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