Who cares for me?

If you are a carer for someone else, it is so important that you lovingly take care of yourself also.

It is a very special role that requires love, compassion and hard work from both parties. In reality we are all ‘carers’!

We care for our loved ones, the earth, different campaigns we feel passionate about, our jobs, and our communities. But we cannot operate from our real place of power unless we care for and love ourselves first and foremost. We all need balance in our lives between work, home, family and socialising. When the balance goes and we feel less healthy, fit or relaxed then we often succumb to the effects of stress, leaving us feeling powerless and dejected.

Stress is something that affects us all in varying degrees and at different times in our lives. Let’s go back to basics and see how we can look after ourselves as best as possible so that we can be fully there for the people in our homes and the greater world we live in.

BREATHE

When our stress level rises, it can translate physically to sweaty hands, shallow, fast breathing and racing thoughts. However have you noticed that when we are relaxed our breath is always slow and calm? So it makes sense that if we breathe slowly, we will automatically relax. We can simply do it ourselves and breathe slowly for 20 breaths or we might consider going to a Yoga, T’ai Chi or Meditation class where we are taught these vital relaxation practises. Taking time-out to do this may be considered indulgent but regular deep breathing is a necessity not a luxury. Your local health food centre is a great source of details for local classes.

TIME OUT

We all deserve time to ourselves to restore our balance and rejuvenate our minds. Many Irish people find this difficult as taking time is often regarded as lazy or even selfish. Everyone needs time out for themselves. Take it and enjoy it.

LIVING IN THE MOMENT

How often do we look at the big, scary picture thinking I’ll never be relaxed or able to cope with this? We tend to bring the past with us clogging up our brain with old hurts and mistakes. Let them go. Just focus on the here and now. Focus on what you CAN do at that moment.

WHAT DO I DO ON A REALLY STRESSFUL DAY?

Make the decision to do your best to face the day. Ask for help if you can. Throw yourself 100% into each ‘problem’ but look forward to going home to your safe haven that is home. Be proud you faced up to the tough day and be sure to treat yourself that evening. Perhaps go for whichever one of the many terrific holistic treatments appeal to you. Acupuncture and reflexology are great all round treatments. The therapeutic benefits of aromatherapy massage are also legendary.

THE UNSUSTAINABLE HERO

It is very possible to be Superwoman or Superman for some of the time but not all of the time. Do you know how to say no? This can often be a huge revelation as human nature being what it is; others will let us run around after them as long as we offer to do so. Learning to say ‘no’ nicely and politely will really pay off in terms of saving your time and energy.

BE CREATIVE

From painting to gardening and cooking to decorating, creativity comes in many forms. We are ALL creative so take time to find out your special talent as a way of chilling out and releasing pent-up emotions safely.

TALK IT OUT

A problem shared is a problem halved and a wonderful way to ease a challenging situation. Phone a friend, sit, chat and share. If you have deeper seated issues that need to be resolved then think about going to see one of the many professionals listed in the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (iacp.ie).

ATTITUDE OF GRATITIUDE

Last thing at night in bed think of all the things that happened in your day for which you can be grateful. This has the remarkable effect of gently focusing your mind on positive things as you drift off into a good quality and deeply refreshing sleep. There are always many things to be grateful for and it is easy to forget them and become complacent. This simple and highly effective spiritual practise helps put life into perspective in the face of challenge.

We humans are amazing creatures. We have immense natural power to harness and move mountains once we tap into our innate healing through our ability to love and be compassionate for ourselves and others. Today is a good day to start… let’s do it together.

Karen Ward
Karen Ward
Holistic Therapist from RTE’s ‘Health Squad’ and Energy Therapist from BBC’s ‘Last Resort’ is author of ‘Change a Little to Change a Lot’ available from her website - karenwardholistictherapist.com.
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