Hey Caregiver! While caregiving is a genuinely rewarding labor of love, it is also emotionally, mentally, spiritually, financially, and even physically taxing! CDC indicated in an article that caregiving is a public health priority and that the health of caregivers is also at risk.
Due to the nature of caregiving, caregivers are often severely selfless and giving of themselves to their loved ones. Which leads to a lack of self-care and attention. Moreover, many caregivers view self-care as selfish and often feel guilty if and when they take time for themselves. Lack of self-care of the said caregiver results in lack of care for their loved one, which obviously is not sustainable for either and in worst case scenarios can even lead to death.
So as caregivers, how can we work to change this reality? Take a wild guess!
We can shift the narrative by embracing “selfullness.”
But, just what is selfullness? Glad you asked.
Psychologist Julie Cowell, Founder of Evolutionary Power, described selfullness in a blog titled “Selfish? Selfless…or Selfull” as allowance for self and connection, regard for you and for me and for that beautiful area of new possibility, discovery, and innovation: co-creativity. Where we can both get everything we want.
I see selfullness as a marriage between selfishness and selflessness. Selfishness means it’s all about ME. Selflessness means it’s all about YOU. Selfullness means it’s all about me and you. PERIOD.
Selfullness is that sweet spot where we should want to be as caregivers.
WHY SHOULD WE PRACTICE SELFULLNESS?
We need to practice selfullness because…
1. Our well-being is essential no matter where we are on the caregiving journey.
2. Selfulness helps us manage stress better and show up better for our loved ones and responsibilities.
I found this awesome chart on Planned Parenthood that spells out the 6 types of self-care, and I have identified these as “Areas of Self-Care to Support Selfullness.” Staying healthy in mind, body, and spirit is essential, especially during caregiving.
01 EMOTIONAL SELF-CARE
Activities that can help you connect, process, and reflect on a full range of emotions.
Examples: Acknowledge your feelings and know that they are valid. Write them down in
a journal or share them with someone, practice gratitude by thinking of at least three things you are thankful for every day, see a therapist, create art, play music, etc.
02 PRACTICAL SELF-CARE
Tasks you complete that fulfill core aspects of your life to prevent future stressful situations. These are things that make your life just a little bit easier.
Examples: Sign up to subscribe and save on Amazon for supplies, clean out the refrigerator, create a budget, take professional development classes, organize your closet, etc.
03 PHYSICAL SELF-CARE
Activities you do that improve the well-being of your physical health. Physical health also helps to strengthen our mental health. It’s a 2-for-1!
Examples: Keep a bedtime schedule to give your body the rest it needs to recover, nourish your body with healthy food and keep yourself hydrated, set aside at least 30 minutes a day to workout, or simply move your body.
04 MENTAL SELF-CARE
Any that stimulates your mind or your intellect. The brain is like a muscle and we have to make sure we “exercise” it properly!
Examples: Setting a routine, taking breaks during the day, practicing mindfulness, and taking time for mentally relaxing activities and activities that stimulate your creativity, like reading a book, solving a puzzle, playing chess, going to a museum, etc.
05 SOCIAL SELF-CARE
Activities that nurture and deepen the relationships with people in your life.
Examples: Joining a support group and reaching out to someone every day. Call or message a family member or friend just to check in, brunch with friends, going on a date, etc.
06 SPIRITUAL SELF CARE
Activities that nurture your spirit and allow you to think bigger than yourself. Spiritual self-care does not have to be religious, although, for some, it is.
Examples: Create a sacred space in your home for meditation, yoga, going to a place of worship, spending time in nature, dedicating time for self-reflection, etc.
In addition to the examples below, if you have a smartphone, tablet, or computer, you could utilize apps to help you achieve some of these self-care practices because…. There’s An APP for that!!
MANAGE YOUR MONEY
We all know that supplies, care, equipment, and housing expenses add up and require us to budget. Mint is one of the best apps to help you do so. You can even personalize it to better fit your individual needs.
Sleep is one of the best ways to combat stress and anxiety, it also helps us to improve our physical health. As caregivers, we cannot afford to be sleep-deprived. So rest easy because there are plenty of apps to help you track and better manage your realm cycle, and Sleep Cycle is one of them.
FIND YOUR HAPPY PLACE:
For me, my backyard is my happy place! However, the app Happify can help you overcome negative thoughts, stress, life’s challenges and get you to your happy place.
Between caregiving and your life, you may be focusing on others rather than yourself. It’s easy to get swept away in stress if you are not mindful of your own needs and health. Calm is an excellent resource for online-guided meditation.
Now that you know a little more about selfullness, self-care practices, and apps that can assist you on your journey, what can you do to become a little more selfull in your own life? Here’s an example of my selfullness approach with my Mama.
Use this Venn diagram to determine yours
I’d like to hear about your progress and what you come with, so please feel free to comment and share your practices to selfullness. And remember… no matter where you are in your caregiving journey, you can BE SELFULL!!!
Yours in Selfullness,
- Caregiving, November 25, 2019, accessed February 18, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/aging/caregiving/index.htm
- Colwell, Dr. Julia B “Selfish? Selfless…or Selfull”, August 19, 2014, accessed February 18, 2021, https://juliacolwell.com/archives/110
- Planned Parenthood, Six Types of Self-Care, 2021, accessed February 18, 2021, https://secure.everyaction.com/p/Pg5bqblugE6-NGId09RIcQ2