There are numerous things caregivers can do to maintain a healthy, positive outlook. Often, it's easy to get caught up in the moment, and forget to be compassionate. Ask yourself, "Would I like to be on the receiving end of the care I'm giving?" If not, make changes.
It's important to remember, especially if your loved one has a form of dementia or a brain injury, if something doesn't sound right, don't accept it as absolute truth, or take it personally. Let go of the past and accept the gift of the present. You only have today; tomorrow is not guaranteed. Use discernment and be part of the solution. Establish a routine of caring for personal needs. Acknowledge you are doing your best and accept that.
By caring for your own mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, you will be able to give freely, not just from your leftover energy, if you have any. It's like being on an airplane and receiving instructions for emergency procedures. The flight attendant instructs if you are traveling with a child or a person who needs assistance, your own oxygen mask is applied first so you are able to help the person you are traveling with. The same applies to care giving. By managing your self-care, you can allow yourselves the freedom to acknowledge and let go of pain and hurts from the past and present. Be honest with yourself.
Learn to take frequent breaks. "No" is not a forbidden word. Use it whenever and with whomever necessary. Share the responsibilities of care giving with others. Be honest and open. Ask for help when you need it. Remember that humor helps. Learn to laugh. Take a deep breath when you feel tense. Give yourself and others credit when that's appropriate.
Get some respite relief after a traumatic event. Continue to learn all you can about the condition and care needs of the person for whom you are caring. Have the proper tools to carry out your responsibilities. Seek out others to be part of your care giving team. Don't try to "go it alone." Learn to grieve losses.
Now, put a plan into action to begin caring for you today. Some days will be more difficult than others when care giving, but do not allow that to occur as a result of self-neglect. You owe it to yourself and your care recipient to have a fresh start each day.