Self-care tips for caregivers and ANE/Brain Injury warriors:
The demands of care giving can be overwhelming, especially if you feel you have little control over the situation or you’re in over your head. If the stress of care giving is left unchecked, it can take a toll on your health, relationships, and state of mind—eventually leading to burnout.
Here is a guide for getting through the hardest times. It may not work for everyone, but hopefully it will help you in some small way. https://themighty.com/2016/12/encouraging-reminders-for-people-struggling-with-illness/
Managing Caregiving Stress
- Accept help.
- Focus on what you are able to provide.
- Set realistic goals.
- Join a support group.
- Seek social support.
- Set personal health goals.
- See your doctor.
Identifying Personal Barriers
Many times, attitudes and beliefs form personal barriers that stand in the way of caring for yourself. Not taking care of yourself may be a lifelong pattern, with taking care of others an easier option. However, as a family caregiver you must ask yourself, “What good will I be to the person I care for if I become ill? If I die? Breaking old patterns and overcoming obstacles is not an easy proposition, but it can be done—regardless of your age or situation. The first task in removing personal barriers to self-care is to identify what is in your way. For example:
- Do you think you are being selfish if you put your needs first?
- Is it frightening to think of your own needs? What is the fear about?
- Do you have trouble asking for what you need? Do you feel inadequate if you ask for help?
- Do you feel you have to prove that you are worthy of the care recipient’s affection? Do you do too much as a result?
Sometimes caregivers have misconceptions that increase their stress and get in the way of good self-care. Here are some of the most commonly expressed:
- I am responsible for my child/sibling/parent’s health.
- If I don’t do it, no one will.
- If I do it right, I will get the love, attention, and respect I deserve.
- Our family always takes care of their own
- I promised my father I would always take care of my mother
- “I never do anything right,” or “There’s no way I could find the time to exercise” are examples of negative self-talk, another possible barrier that can cause unnecessary anxiety. Instead, try positive statements: “I’m good at giving John a bath.” “I can exercise for 15 minutes a day.” Remember, your mind believes what you tell it.
Because we base our behavior on our thoughts and beliefs, attitudes and misconceptions like those noted above can cause caregivers to continually attempt to do what cannot be done, to control what cannot be controlled. The result is feelings of continued failure and frustration and, often, an inclination to ignore your own needs. Ask yourself what might be getting in your way and keeping you from taking care of yourself.
- Ask medical services to talk in layman’s terms
- Seek clarification of things
- Don’t be afraid of other peoples qualifications
- Keep asking questions and find out about all your choices
- Remember that parents are the experts about their children
- If you can’t get satisfaction from one service keep going until you are satisfied
- Have someone to talk to, to let off steam
- Rely on your own strength
- Have belief and hope
- Go on your gut instincts
- Set realistic goals to achieve.
- Focus on what you think is possible
- Accept help
- Keep part of yourself separate. Have time out on your own
- Only worry about what is most important. Let go of some of the smaller worries
- Surround yourself with people who empower you and let go of people who bring you down
- Accept the person with the ABI as who they are now
- Let siblings be who they are and live their lives with choice
- Remember that not everything concerning your child is the ABI. Children still go through normal developmental stages.
- Realise that children do learn new skills
- Work out whom you are going to take advice from and forget the others
- Let the kids have dreams like other kids
- Be patient
- Be determined
- Don’t always believe what the experts say
- Paint the picture for your child
- If you have something to say, say it
- Get another opinion if you are not happy
- Ask questions of teachers
- Be there for your partner & family
- Give each other space
- Talk through problems
- The first month is the toughest
- Be positive, the children can read the negative
- Use the social worker at the hospital
- Confide in a close friend
- You need to have holidays
- Use respite(if you can find it)
- Encourage your child to play non contact sports or do other activities
- Find something to compete in
- Have an interest – be involved in a club
- Hang in there
Grieving and Loss-Not Just For Death
Grieving in some form is a normal reaction to any form of loss (e.g. a break up of a relationship, a death or a brain injury).
When a child has had a brain injury, parents can experience feelings of considerable loss. These losses can be practical (home, relationship, financial security) or symbolic (hopes & dreams).
Grieving after your child has had a brain injury can be quite complex and take time. People can experience the pain of loss each time their child tries to do something that they were able to do before their injury and now find they can’t. Grieving may occur at the “milestones” that your child now achieves differently.
Some of the emotions that people experience when they are grieving include anger, fear, depression, sadness, numbness, disappointment, despair, guilt and frustration.
Everyone deals with grief and loss in their own way. There is no specific recommended ‘treatment” that can cure feelings of grief and loss. Time is a very important factor.
It is essential to recognise loss, acknowledge it and mourn. The trick is to express what you are feeling openly and honestly, but in appropriate ways like talking to someone. Trying not to think about feelings or challenges in an attempt to avoid the feelings doesn’t help in the long term.
Whilst it is important to talk through your experiences to help make sense of what has happened, spending all of your time thinking and talking about your child’s injuries and the past can cause you to become stuck. Recovery means feeling good when something good happens, feeling hopeful about the future, giving energy to everyday life, laughing and being happy to be alive and finding ways to be with others.
- Some key points to remember
- Grief is not an illness grief is a unique process for each individual
- grieving cannot be hurried
- there is not right or wrong way to grieve
- people have different feelings and belief
- the absence of an outward show of grief does not meant that the person is not grieving
While you are grieving you need to feel safe and supported, express your feelings as you grieve, tell your story and have your experience acknowledged and your distress and pain validated. You also need to go on living in a meaningful way and move towards re- establishing your life
Please note that more information can also be found at https://www.facebook.com/ANEInternational/