When you are caring for someone with a life-limiting illness it can be difficult to remember to take some time out for yourself. However, it is very important to take care of your own health and wellbeing during these times.
It can be easy to put your own needs last, but it is important if you are feeling tired or stressed to look after yourself, so you are still able to care for the person that needs you the most.
Everyone remembers the death of a loved one and how they felt during the experience. Here at VMCH we strive to support you at this time, hopefully easing some of the pain and offering some comfort.
The VMCH Mission and Pastoral Care Teams have put together some tips from Palliative Care Australia about how to care for yourself, and your relationships during this time.
- Take time each day to do something for you. Don’t feel guilty about looking after yourself. It will help you to be a better carer.
- Get enough sleep.
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Accept help from others, you deserve it!
- Caring can make life very busy. Making lists may help.
- A family meeting can help with planning the care your relative needs.
- Look after your relationships, both with your relative and with others.
- Accept help for those practical things which can lessen your load.
- Perform a relaxation exercise a few times each week.
- Take regular breaks: get a friend or volunteer to stay with your relative while you do something for yourself.
- If you are feeling overwhelmed; talk to someone (a friend or someone from the palliative care team). Remind yourself that you are doing your best and that you are not alone. Your feelings are normal, there is help available.
- Deal kindly with yourself, give yourself plenty of rewards and maintain a sense of humour.
- Look for the positive in all situations – it may take some practice but it’s worth it!
Remember, “We cannot change the outcome, but we can affect the journey,” (Ann Richardson).
If you’d like some more information about practising self-care, visit https://palliativecare.org.au/resources/self-care-matters.