It’s great that there have been so many messages in response to my first blog but there is a clear message – it is very difficult to make sure that we look after ourselves!
Why is that I wonder? There are probably lots of reasons – lack of time comes up again and again when I speak to carers, then there is habit and how we all have familiar ways of doing things, and then of course there is what we like doing and what we are used to doing. That might be liking to fix things, it might be about liking to have things orderly and tidy, it might be about being in control so that we don’t have to deal with the unexpected.
So, we might know in our heads that we should look after ourselves but there are all sorts of things that stop us from doing what we know might be good to do! In some ways the list above isn’t the whole answer though. For many of the carers I have worked with there is something much more important and more difficult to change which underpins things and makes it difficult to change the choices we make.
It is about believing you are worth taking care of, believing you are important enough to look after your own needs, believing that sometimes it is OK to put yourself first. And that can be why it is difficult to change. Yes, you might know that when you don’t take care of yourself you are less resilient, in other words less able to cope with things that come up unexpectedly or things that don’t go according to plan. But how on earth to make the change?
It takes a lot of effort and energy to change but it does become easier if we believe that things that matter to us will improve once we have changed. Sorry that might be a bit complicated but, in a nutshell, we have to believe that by putting in the effort to change, we will make things better for ourselves and the person we care for. Other people (like me!) saying that you ought to change doesn’t work. You have to believe it for yourself.
Back to my first blog, running on empty isn’t good for us and its often not good for the person we care for. How many times have you been irritable or snapped or wished you hadn’t been so quick to judge, even angry and then beaten yourself up and felt guilty? How often have you wondered why on some days you can cope with anything that gets thrown at you yet there are other days when the tiniest thing blows you right off course?
If any of that sounds familiar be reassured you are not alone and you are not a bad person or a bad carer – you are just human and doing your best can be very difficult! There are no easy answers to any of this but we will explore it and maybe that will help.