“…okay if I don’t have space in my cup then I’m not actually able to serve these people, my children, the people that I’m caring for, the way that I want to and I need to” Emma, Tree House Family Counselling
Personally, I believe that the term “self-care” is thrown around so much in the health & wellbeing circles that it has, for the most part, lost its meaning and impact.
If I were to ask you to think about the following questions “does self-care mean anything to you” or “what does self-care mean to you?” What conjures up in your mind? Does your mind wander to bubble baths, glasses of bubbles, massages, long lunches and day-spa’s? OR Do your eyes glaze over and your mind shut off?!
What conjures up in your mind? Does your mind wander to bubble baths, glasses of bubbles, massages, long lunches and day-spa’s? OR Do your eyes glaze over and your mind shut off?!
OR Do your eyes glaze over and your mind shut off?!
Do your eyes glaze over, roll into the back of your head and your mind shut off?!
As much as those luxuries would be super welcome in my life, are they realistic and achievable every day for most of us?
The term “Self-Care” by its nature suggest’s it is about “self” but in a caregiving context and even as a person who has responsibility for nurturing & caring for other humans it is anything but.
As a carer or parent, you are on call 24/7. The responsibility is enormous and the stakes are high.
What happens when the carer or parent becomes sick or incapable of providing the care?
It is a confronting question to face but an incredibly real one. One I have faced and a number of close friends of mine have faced. As a family caregiver and being forced to face your own health crisis, your mortality, head on is tough. It’s not a situation anyone would welcome.
So what do we really mean when we talk about self-care and how can we achieve it with everything else going on?
I interviewed my friend Emma from Tree House Family Counselling last year all about finding balance, self-care, dealing with guilt and nurturing relationships within the home. Emma says that rather than think about the term “drinking out of an empty cup” she likes to think of a cup that is full of stress and overwhelm and the aim is to create space in that cup to deal with the tough stuff that will inevitably come up. On asking Emma, how do we find balance and give to ourselves without feeling guilty, this is what she said:
“…and I think parents, carers particularly, it’s often full right up to the top (the cup). And then when a little thing happens it overflows. So, one of the big things for me is to support people to work through how to make space in the cup. Not necessarily empty the cup because that’s completely unrealistic. But how to make space in the cup so that you can cope with life’s challenges, with a day of chaos, or a really negative experience or an argument with a loved one, or medical treatment unexpected medical treatment, for you or a child or whoever it is you’re caring for.
So, finding ways to have that little bit of space in there I think is the best way as parents and carers that we can protect ourselves. And of course, I’m making it sound really simple and it isn’t simple because if there’s no space, there’s no space. But I think that giving yourself permission to take care of you and looking at it in the sense of that cup where you say to yourself, ‘okay if I don’t have space in my cup then I’m not actually able to serve these people, my children, the people that I’m caring for, and the way that I want to and I need to’. So actually, doing things to create that space is actually selfless. It’s not selfish to do things to create that space, it’s completely selfless. What you are doing is creating space to be able to care for other people. I feel that the best way for people to do that is to have
So actually, doing things to create that space is actually selfless. It’s not selfish to do things to create that space, it’s completely selfless. What you are doing is creating space to be able to care for other people. I feel that the best way for people to do that is to have a community around them. I know that the word “self-care” is used a lot and I think it’s really important to look after ourselves, but I think it’s also important to have people that can help look after you, I think that’s a really vital part of it.
Self-care has this connotation that it’s all about you, and what you do for yourself, but I think that building that community around you and having that sense of a tribe of people that care for you so that you can care for others, I think is really important as far as protecting ourselves and looking out for ourselves.”
That’s great but how can I make it work for me?
The idea is to create some space for you. Your self-care plan can start by finding support networks you can join like:
- Parents & Carers Connect (Private Facebook Support & Education Community)
- A local community or caregiver group (Like Carers Australia)
- Your family or friends
- An app to help coordinate supports like “Gather My Crew”
- Carer Gateway has a list of supports and resources within your community
As far as you yourself are concerned, how about today or even this week you try to channel your senses. Take a 5-minute walk outside and stand in the sun or clouds. Stop. Close your eyes. Breathe deep. Focus on your senses. What can you feel? What can you hear? Sometimes just stopping and taking heed can help you have a mini recharge.
My personal favourites are:
- upbeat music
- having a potter in the garden
- fresh cut flowers from the garden
- Essential oils/candles inside
- taking a stroll outside
- a convo with a friend or family member you’ve been meaning to catch up with
There is no right or wrong, this is about what works for you and yours. But I urge you to stop and think about your day. Where there is space. Is there wasted time? An opportunity for change? Are you still at the ‘guilt phase’ perhaps?
Until next time please take care,
Are you ready to live a life feeling more in control while being better able to deal with the stress and chaos of daily life?
Do you feel like you need some individual support to set you on your way?
Hi, I am Cassie a mum, carer of 15 years and a health & wellness coach. I work with mum’s helping them break through the chaos and overwhelm in their caring role and start living a more enjoyable and less stressful life (for them and their family).
I can help you sort through your stress, clutter and chaos and help you move toward more ease and calm for all within your family.
INTRODUCTORY OFFER: 90 MINUTES FOR $99 Coaching & Mentoring Support
- In 90 Minutes we work together to identify the challenges and opportunities for you moving forward
- Develop solid strategies to address the identified challenges
- Construct a written action plan based on our time together