Importance of Self-Care
For many years, as I visited with other carepartners, I stressed the fact that carepartners “needed to take care of themselves so, they could care for their loved one with Parkinson’s”. Last year, I had a personal realization about this phrase. What I should have said is: “I need to take care of myself for me first, my loved one second”.
It’s so easy for us in today’s world to put ourselves last on the “care list”. We put our children, spouses, family, home, work, pets, and so on way before we take care of ourselves. When a chronic illness such as Parkinson’s is also part of the equation, there’s even more of a tendency for carepartners to rush their loved one into the top spot for care.
If Not YOU, WHO?
It is vitally important that the carepartner have a depth of self-knowledge and be willing to ask one’s self “How are you doing today?” or “How am I doing in this moment?”. My realization of this fact came from my study of Reiki and mindfulness meditation. The first level of Reiki is about self-care. Mindfulness Meditation is about being still and focusing on the self, specifically one’s breath. My self-knowledge evolved over time and I’m so happy that it did. I only wish that I had a grasp of this self-awareness sooner! I find myself checking in on my mental, emotional and physical awareness. This really is a practice that you have to do yourself. As much as your loved one, family, or friend ask you “How you are doing?”, they may not be prepared for your true answer. Most of us will not give the true answer, anyway. The true answer is being with yourself and looking honestly at the whole package. I find the following questions are helpful for me. These are just a few examples to help someone to get started. Once you begin an internal dialog with yourself, you will find questions that are best suited to you.
- How do I physically feel today? Are there areas which need some attention?
- How balanced do I feel mentally today?
- How much time can I make for myself to meditate, exercise, <insert your activity here> today?
- How can I best care for myself today?