By The LLuminari Experts
July 15, 2003
Nearly 65 percent of caregivers are women. This is not surprising when you consider how much fulfillment we tend to get from nurturing. We also tend to give so much to others there is often very little left for ourselves. When we don't take the time for self-nurturing, all too often we begin to experience burnout, which can have a profound affect on every aspect of our lives.
As with most things, balance is the key. Being able to express ourselves, finding personal time, and making sure to embrace joyous moments are all great ways to find this healthy balance.
11 Ways to Take Care of Yourself
Create a personal mission statement for your life. Make sure what you do each day is in line with your values and priorities.
Avoid the urge to multi-task. Concentrate on just one thing at a time. Completing a project can really boost your mood!
If someone is pushing your buttons, walk away from the situation. Getting sucked into someone else's bad mood does neither of you any good.
Learn to say no without feeling guilty.
Give yourself permission to be imperfect, and allow family and friends the same parameters.
Play hooky. Everyone deserves and needs to drop out for a day every now and then. Take time for yourself just relaxing and doing nothing.
Eat a food you yearned for when you were a kid. Feeling deprived can get a quick fix with something as simple as eating a "forbidden food." Just remember to wipe the smile and the chocolate off your face before you have to go back to the real world.
Spend time with your girlfriends doing something silly. Try on outlandish clothes, see a movie, take a road trip—give yourself permission to play for a day.
Get a manicure or pedicure and wallow in the luxury! If this doesn't fit your budget, see if one of your kids (even a niece or nephew) wants to make you feel like queen for a day!
Learn a new skill. Take music lessons, or look into adult-education classes for painting or jewelry making. Do something you know nothing about and watch yourself grow.
Remember that creating time for yourself will make you a better caregiver for others. There is no room for guilt in the equation.
Taking a few minutes every day to relax will put you in a better mood and will help you deal with the everyday stresses of taking care of your ailing loved ones. Use these suggestions to help find your inner peace so you can be the best caregiver possible.
Start each and every day with a big yawn and full body stretch. Warming up in the morning allows you to ease your way into a new day both mentally and physically.
Whenever possible, get up a bit earlier than necessary so you can create time for yourself. Sitting with a warm cup of coffee, tea, or cocoa and relishing in the early morning silence gives your mind and body some valuable "me" time.
Experiment with scents and smells to fine-tune your personal aromatherapy. Discover which aromas make you feel more energetic and productive. Pay attention to what makes you feel calm and centered. Then use these when you feel the need to focus or relax.
Create an image in your mind that represents peace and calm. This will be your escape hatch for those moments when life feels overwhelming. Perhaps you feel peaceful when you look at the ocean, or maybe a field of flowers makes you feel calm. You may even visualize a cloud-filled sky to bring harmony to your mind's eye. Take a deep breath and go to this place whenever the need arises.
Remember that you make the world a better place by helping to care for others.
Cultivate a sense of gratitude for what life brings to you—both the good and the bad. This is a journey, and the people with the fullest lives have experienced both sorrow and joy and learned how to be thankful for the lessons learned.
Gratify your senses. Wear soft, comfortable clothing. Savor a flavor. Notice the beauty that surrounds you.
Make it a practice to sleep only when you are sleepy. If you have trouble falling asleep, get up and do something quietly until your eyelids are drooping and you know sleep will come.
Don't take naps, and if you do, sleep less than one hour and make sure it's before 3 p.m.
Try to schedule your getting up and going to bed routines so that you are doing them at the same time every day—even on weekends!
Exercising before bedtime is not a good idea because it will re-energize you. Make sure you have at least four hours before bedtime if you must exercise in the evening.
Develop sleep rituals so your body will know it's time for bed. Listen to quiet, relaxing music, read something soothing, have something warm and decaffeinated to drink, or practice some slow, deep breathing.
Use your bed only for sleeping. Your bed is not an entertainment center or office, so watching television or doing paperwork in the bedroom is a real "no-no."
Take a nice warm bath about an hour before bedtime. Studies show that the drop in body temperature after a relaxing bath will leave you feeling sleepy.
Printed from Oprah.com on Sunday, December 8, 2013