For many caregivers, it’s not in their nature to ask for help. We’re givers, not takers. We have a hard time when it comes to taking care of ourselves. Or taking help from others when it’s offered to us.
This seems to contradict our natural instincts for self-preservation, but I’ve seen the pattern repeat many times in myself and others: as caregivers, we tend to put our own needs last. We think it’s our duty to put others first. We even base our own sense of self-esteem on what we’re doing to meet the needs of others.
One of the greatest benefits of self-care is the positive effect it can have on our self-esteem. If you’re constantly feeling tired, isolated or stressed-out (see our Feb. 28 email on compassion fatigue), your self-esteem is going to suffer, too. If you take care of your own needs, you’ll not only feel better physically, you’ll feel better about yourself.
Strong self-esteem acts as a buffer against burnout and compassion fatigue. But building up your self-esteem can be hard work. Here are a few simple ways to get started:
Accept compliments graciously, and allow others to acknowledge your successes.
Surround yourself with people who treat you well; avoid “toxic” people.
Focus on successes, and learn from failures.
Set realistic goals, and work toward them with reasonable expectations.
Be your own cheerleader through positive self-talk.
And here are some more self-help tips, including asking for help and making sure you’re eating and sleeping right.
Remember, too, that your loved one can pick up on your feelings of fatigue or unhappiness, and may start feeling guilt of their own, or shame for being a burden to you. Self-care is not self-indulgence. It benefits both you and those around you.
Have you been your own cheerleader today?
Founder and Executive Director