Hesperian Health Guides
Take care of yourself
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Some caregivers devote themselves completely to fulfilling the needs of the people they care for. They get so good at helping other people that they forget to take care of their own needs. Sometimes they sacrifice their own well-being and their enjoyment of life. After a while, helpers who never think about themselves may begin to get frustrated and angry at the people they help. This can hurt both the helper and the person she assists.
If you do not take care of yourself, you stop having energy to help others. To take good care of someone, you must get enough sleep and rest, look after your own physical needs, and continue to have fun and other relationships.
Practice traditions that calm the body and mind and build inner strength such as yoga, prayer, meditation, T’ai Chi, and others. Practicing these traditions regularly can help you cope with the stress of caring for someone.
Take care of your own health
- Eat good food so your body stays strong.
- Get enough sleep so you will have enough energy during the day.
- Get more exercise than just your work as a caregiver.
- Massage can help you relax your body. It can also help relieve stress and upset.
Make time to put your work aside and do something you enjoy. It is important for a woman with a disability and her caregiver to both have friends and interests away from each other. To have a full and satisfying life, each of you needs to spend time with other people.
Ask others for help
Being a caregiver can be isolating. When a disabled person relies on just one helper all the time, everyone else may feel that the ‘expert helper’ is the only person who knows the right way to assist. But no one should be a disabled woman’s only helper. Other family members, friends and neighbors can assist by bringing or cooking a meal, going to the market, cleaning, or just coming to visit. This will help you rest and have more energy later.
Giving and receiving help
Look for ways a disabled woman can do things as part of the family’s daily routine. Then, she can give help instead of just receiving it. Have good, realistic expectations. Expect a woman to be the best she can be. Encourage her to try new things and develop her skills.