At its core, self care is simply the practice of looking after your own physical and mental health in ways that support a good quality of life and prevent illness or endangerment. Everyone’s self care needs are different and should be based on determinants specific to your life, such as hereditary health and your environment, occupation, habits, interests, stress levels, and more. The most effective forms of self care are based on a careful analysis of the factors in your life that, if not monitored or controlled, can lead to poor physical or mental health.
Why Self Care Is Essential for Caregivers
Self care is especially important for caregivers to practice. All parents and guardians are caregivers, but the term often refers to parents of children with physical or intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD), as well as the professional staff who work with them. Caregivers naturally put the needs of their children and clients before their own, but doing so to the extent that their own health needs are ignored can lead to serious illness or burnout. Here are some of the reasons why caregiver self care is essential:
Keeps you better equipped to support IDD individuals in the long term. You may feel that neglecting your own needs is best for your loved one or patient. However, developing a physical or mental health crisis will eventually render you unable to care for them.
Helps you live longer. Studies show that caregivers between the ages of 66 and 96 are 63% more likely to die than people their age who are not caregivers. Even Baby Boomer caregivers are at increased risk of depression, chronic illness, and a reduced quality of life; other family caregivers are at an increased risk for depression and drug abuse.
Emotional burnout has physical consequences. It’s important to take both physical and mental burnout seriously. Symptoms of this very real condition include chronic release of stress hormones that can cause exhaustion, irritability, a weakened immune system, digestive problems, headaches, other forms of pain, and weight gain.
Effective self-care helps you manage stress better. Caring for yourself builds general resilience, and it can help you cope with the pressures of caregiving as well as unrelated stressors in other aspects of your life. This ultimately makes you a stronger person capable of doing more.
Progressive Lifestyles Supports Caregiver Self Care
Progressive Lifestyles, Inc. is dedicated to providing innovative support services for people with disabilities. Our mission is to provide supportive and caring residential opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout Oakland County, Michigan.
A primary focus of our organization is to interact with the individuals we support through the “Culture of Gentleness” model. We seek to create a positive environment to help them feel safe and valued while maximizing praise, limiting demands, maintaining consistent structure, and reducing stress during transitions. We support wellness for all of our employees and encourage self care for caregivers.