The importance of self-care when caring

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Over the years, on too many occasions to mention or even recall, I’ve told relatives and friends the importance of self-care, “you will be no use nor ornament” I would hear myself say, but it’s true.

I always knew it, hence why I would say it but I’m not sure that I really truly understood it until 2018.

We all know that modern day life is crazy at times, the phone calls, text messages and never-ending emails, both Moms and dads working, deadlines to achieve and the dreaded tail backs on the motorways. I could go on, I won’t (I hear you all sigh with relief). Add into all of that caring for a loved one. Many of us do, young or old. It’s hard but we do it out of love, duty maybe and yes there are times because we have to.

As individuals we are complex, we all wear multiple hats, multiple faces and have way too many thoughts to even begin to start thinking about! Inside of all this craziness, in that quietest moment when no one is watching, then we are just “me. It’s that person we need to care for when we are caring because otherwise it will just get lost and become unwell too.

We forget to eat, or we leave the cup of tea to go cold. We lose sleep because we have to get up and do the mad dash at 2am to A & E or just go and help get your loved one up off the floor. We hide our emotions because we want and need to protect others. We don’t ask for help because of fear of being seen as not coping or we just can’t afford it. We have to choose between work and being there with your loved one.

Sometimes though, we do have to choose because we just need to press pause and recharge. 2018 showed me that our own internal battery can be like that of a two-year-old mobile phone, the one that tells you your contract is due for renewal because you charge the battery and an hour later you are back to 3%. Pressing pause is hard, the emotions that come with pressing that button are sometimes too much to carry or even bare, but it’s essential because without pressing pause and placing ourselves as carers first, we will be no use nor ornament.