Are you caring for a loved one in crisis? While you might not see yourself as a Caregiver, that is exactly what you are.
Identifying as a Caregiver is so important because it allows us to be more open to seek out and accept support, guidance and tools that help our loved ones and us throughout the crisis experience and beyond. Without a level of support and a self-care routine, you’ll likely find yourself burning out. Not long ago, I was well on my way to burnout.
Just a few years ago, without much warning, my son spiraled into a mental health crisis.
My life turned on end. I found myself barely sleeping, hardly eating and often unable to do anything to take care of myself. Given the severity of the situation, there was very little time for me to even contemplate taking care of myself but in all honesty, there was a part of me that didn’t believe that I deserved that level of care either. My son was ill and I was certain that I was at least partly to blame.
One day, a few months into the crisis, I read an article that noted nearly all caregivers who did not have a self-care routine would find themselves ill within 12-18 months post crisis. The illnesses ranged from mental health and addiction to burnout and physical disease. This statistic stopped me in my tracks.
I realized in that moment that I wanted to be well in the present so that I could be at my best to take care of my son. And I certainly did not want to become ill because of the situation.
More importantly, I recognized that I had a choice. I could choose to take care of my needs, take better care of my son, show up and be present or I could choose to pull the covers over my head, berate myself for my shortcomings and risk not only my son’s health but my own.
Here are five things I did to avoid total Caregiver burnout:
- I joined a yoga program called “40 days to Personal Revolution” which focused on yoga, meditation, journaling and improving my diet
- I took an extra five minutes in the car, between appointments, to just sit and breathe
- I turned my smart phone notifications off for an hour per day
- I listened to my body and ate when I was hungry, slept when I was tired
- I practiced self-forgiveness as often as I was able
When my son eventually started on his road to recovery, I did find myself depleted in my body, mind and spirit but having put in place a solid self-care routine during the crisis allowed me to heal sooner and with less negative ramifications. I did not find myself ill 18 months post crisis, in fact by that timeframe I was well on my way back to total health.
Self-care is a choice. Healing is a decision. While there are times in our lives when our situations create the basis for burnout, we are not victims of our circumstances. We can choose health. I did and so can you.
Amy White is an International Best-selling author, Caregiver Champion, and Intuitive Life Coach. Amy writes the blog Far From Paradise (www.farfromparadise.org); sharing the lessons, insights and heartache, as well as her own personal healing journey, following her son’s mental health breakdown. She hopes that her story about fighting stigma, navigating the mental health services maze and focusing on her own emotional healing will provide a beacon of hope and light for those who are working to support a loved one or themselves on the path to health and wellness. Amy’s new book Closer to Paradise: A Mother’s Journey through Crisis and Healing will be released August 2016 by Motivational Press.