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Self-Care Has Benefits Throughout Our Lifetime

With July 24 being self-care day, we feel it’s important to shed a light on the importance of taking care of yourself — whether you’re a caregiver, currently in home care, or under hospice care in San Mateo. Self-care: taking care of ourselves…such a simple concept yet so many of us have such a hard time focusing on ourselves. It’s too bad, since self-care has been proven to have positive effects on our mood, outlook, emotional health and physical health.

Forbes says it best: self-care is something people consider to be too much of a challenge, too out of reach and too much of a last priority. As a result, we believe that engaging in nurturing care of our own bodies, minds and spirits takes second, third and fourth place after the needs of everyone else. We tend to associate “self-care” with painful, strenuous, uncomfortable exercise that many of us feel we can’t sustain over time. However, there is a healthier and more enjoyable way to approach self-care that makes us want to care for ourselves rather than feel obligated. Even in hospice, self-care has value and can equate to a better quality of life, however brief it may be.

For Caregivers

While self-care often must take a backseat for caregivers and loved ones of those in hospice, it’s important to remember to re-charge, not just periodically when you’ve reached your breaking point, but regularly so you don’t reach that point to begin with. Those who provide valuable healing or peace to others are often forced to acknowledge, every day, their own vulnerability and mortality. That need to process feelings, especially grief, is vital, along with the associated pain and enrichment that comes with it, says Psychology Today.

The key component to emotional self-care means making time to routinely express, soothe and release emotions, which can manifest in crying, irritability, anxiety, numbness, self-doubt and even addictive behaviors. To express those emotions in a positive way, it’s necessary to have outlets, whether that is writing in a journal, being creative, having drinks with friends, cuddling a pet, getting a massage, taking a yoga class, doing some gardening or even just soaking in a hot bubble bath.

Treasure the joyful times and successes you encounter every day. Take part in as many pleasurable activities as you can, laughing often and freely, to fill up those resource reserves that tend to get depleted on a daily basis simply by being a caregiver. Staying well yourself — physically, mentally, emotionally — can mean the difference between burnout and fulfillment.

For the Patient

Even in hospice, there is a noted value to promoting self-care for those suffering from chronic disease and illness. Such support for self care is increasingly being viewed as a core component of the management of long-term conditions, says the National Institutes of Health. The first step is to recognize and monitor your boundaries, particularly in the early stages of home care or hospice. Caregivers may have to help with this. The ability to set clear boundaries is an integral part of practicing self-care. How can you prioritize yourself if you don’t make it clear to your friends and family what you can and can’t do?

If you are a natural-born people pleaser, you may find yourself saying yes when you really mean no. This is the time to take a step back, recognize what is of value to you, and pick and choose how you spend your time. This is a difficult lesson to learn, but now is not the time to over-commit yourself, as it can take a big toll on your health. Be polite but firm. You don’t need to justify your actions. Just remember to have as much compassion for yourself as you do everyone around you. This is your time. Don’t squander it pleasing others.

Ask for the massage, let people help you, relax and take care of you. As a hospice patient, you have had to give up a lot of things that have defined you in the past, such as your career or your athletic abilities. Now, you have to find a way to value yourself for the person you are, rather than valuing the things that you do. Self-care is the portal to this next phase of your life. This is when you should be connecting with yourself instead of hiding your feelings or trying to please everyone else.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

If you are a caregiver or your loved one is facing hospice, don’t hesitate to contact the compassionate staff at Pathways Home Health and Hospice — where self-care is a daily mantra around here. Contact us today at 888-755-7855 to learn about our hospice services, our hospice care team and what to expect when you visit us.