“Look after yourself” – it’s advice that you’ve heard many times before, and it’s easy for someone to say, but sometimes not so easy to put into practice.
However, self-care as a carer is crucial for three main reasons:
Thoughts as barriers: All this makes perfect sense but sometimes some of our own attitudes, beliefs, and even negative thought patterns can act like a barrier, preventing us from taking care of ourselves.
If you have ever had any of the following thoughts then you are putting barriers in your own way;
- Putting my own needs first is selfish
- I don’t have time to exercise
- Asking for help is a sign that I’m inadequate
- If I don’t do it, no-one will
- I am responsible for my partner’s/parent’s health
Retraining your thoughts: It is well worth taking a moment to examine your own attitudes and beliefs towards taking care of yourself and the caring process itself. Take time to actually notice whether you have any of the thoughts listed above. Once you have identified recurring negative, or unhelpful thought patterns, you can then try to counteract them with positive thoughts and actions, which in turn may help you to manage stress.
Try to actively notice when such thoughts occur – it may be helpful to jot them down in a diary, and to write down a more positive statement or interpretation of the situation beside the negative one. It will take a little time to retrain your thoughts but remember taking care of yourself is not selfish, it’s sensible.
Practicing present-mindedness: Another really helpful strategy for staying away from negative thoughts is to practice present-mindedness.
This short film highlights the importance of being present-minded, and some ways you can help yourself to stay in the moment.
Once you’ve begun to identify the barriers that may be preventing you from taking good care of yourself, you can start to make changes to your behaviour in order to give your own needs more priority.
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