We’ve prepared lasagna together, sorted through the mail, planned the weekly meals and compiled a shopping list. My client has filled her med box for the week, and I’ve painstakingly reviewed each little partition packed full of either 8 or 11 pills. It’s time to go, so I bend down to fake kiss her sweet cat good-bye. They both like when I do that. It’s been a good couple hours at the end of my day and my heart is feeling happy. Nearly every time I leave this particular client’s apartment, she walks me to the door where I hear these words shouted with absolute sincerity and gusto, “Bye- bye, Sheri! Take care of YOU!” Recently I heard those words ring differently. It caused me to pause and reflect upon a deeper truth. “Take care of you…” As caregivers, self-care often takes a back seat to the urgent and seemingly more important matters of life. Let’s face it, for many of us, self-care isn’t even in the back seat, it’s been tossed in the trunk, long forgotten. Those working in SLS may be putting in back- to- back 12 to 24 hour shifts. During those shifts, there may be heavy lifting, loss of sleep and complex medical or emotional issues. Those in ILS may be juggling the needs and crises of seven or more clients, and configuring Netbook schedules that resemble a Tetras game. Even working in the office doesn’t exempt anyone from the stresses common to a person-centered business. “Taking care” almost always means everybody but us.
How do you know you’re ignoring self-care? Take a look at a few indicators:
Honestly, I’ve experienced nearly every one of those indicators over my years as a caregiver. As a mother of 3 children, one of whom is severely disabled, as a pastor’s wife for 20 years, and even as a Compass employee, I’ve hit the skids physically and emotionally a time or two. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it must be caught before we cause serious damage to ourselves. Like most of you, I like to work, and I especially love helping people. Sometimes I need to stop to remember that I am important enough to take care of too. There are people depending on me who need me to be my best. In reality, taking care of me IS taking care of others and not selfish in the least. Taking my car in for an oil change isn’t a selfish act. On the contrary, it serves me well to care for my car so it can take me where I want to go whenever I wish. In the same way, caring for my body and soul helps to provide me the freedom in life to live my dreams. When I am rested, well-nourished, and meaningfully connected to those I love, my best self shows up and everybody wins!
Nobody can do what you do, love like you love or touch your world like you do. You are vitally important and worth all the effort needed to be your very best self. Over the next few months I will be sharing tips about just that, taking care of You.
Written by Sheri Wittmer
Redding ILS Life Coach
Certified Wellness Coach/ www.sheriswellnesscoaching.com