Being a full-time caregiver to a family member with a chronic illness or disbaility can be rewarding work, but also incredibly isolating. That's why Peter Rosenberger, author of Hope for the Caregiver, says it's critical to take care of you, too. A little self love can go a long way--especially during the holiday season. Here are 8 "gifts" to give yourself.
1) Commit to seeing a doctor. More than 70% of caregivers don't see a doctor. You may be busy tending to someone else's needs, but it's so important to prioritize your own health too.
2) Commit to doing something that brings joy to your heart. It doesn’t have to be exotic: a good movie, watch a standup comedian, read a good book, paint, play the piano …something that speaks beauty and joy to you in the middle of your stuff.
3) Make a list of people you resent and forgive them and then burn the list. Lose the grudges but keep boundaries.
4) Make one small change in your diet. For instance, substitute a sugary drink for water. Grab a piece of fruit instead of a candy bar. Substitute a burger for a salad or butter for oliv oil.
5) Send a Christmas card to yourself. Pick out a card your loved one would send if he/she were healthy emotionally and physically. And put a $10 bill in it.
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6) Do something physical. Walk to the back of the house and back. Alan Alda walks around to John Phillips Sousa to help with his Parkinson's. He's not a doctor but he played one on TV--and it’s pretty good advice. He lifts up his knees. Something that simple can really benefit caregivers.
7) Isolation is crippling. Do something social. Go to church or another places of worship. Slip in and listen to the music of the season.
8) Call a trusted friend and tell them if you are struggling. Take a leap of faith that they will listen. Don’t ask for solution--just an ear and a tender heart.
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