The Goddess Weighs In

Living Large and Healthy

Pay Yourself First

on March 3, 2013

This was an expression my father used quite a lot.  He was talking about financial matters and that when you are deciding how to allot your funds you need to make sure that first you put a set amount in reserve for retirement or a rainy day and then you pay off bills, debts and the like.  But this phrase applies to our persons and our souls as well.

My brother has been hospitalized for over a month and while I worry about him and his recovery I know that he is looked after.  It is after all a hospital and he has nurses fussing over him and around him giving him meds, monitoring his comings and goings, taking readings and all those weird and wonderful things that nurses do.  It may not be fun, but he is being watched over.

My concern is for his wife.  She goes to the hospital every day, advocates for him, brings him food when he is permitted to eat, tends to him, rallies his spirits, and generally holds all the pieces together and then makes her way home and looks after the house and gets a regular dose of stink eye from dear Betty A. Cat who can’t understand why she is alone all day and wonders where the taller human has gotten himself to, cuz she hasn’t seen him in what seems like forever.

My brother has been ill since May and it is only now that my sister-in-law is fully realizing that if she doesn’t take care of herself there will be nothing left of her to aid him.  She has cut back the number of hours spent at the hospital, started to exercise in the morning and is paying more attention to her eating habits.  I think this last one is by far the hardest for someone who is in transit and on-call all day every day because it is so much easier to grab something quick and be done with it, then stop and cook a wholesome, nutrient-rich meal.

I am currently helping a friend through a rough patch and I am taking a page from my sister-in-law’s book.  I skipped my Sunday aquafit classes the last few weeks to spend time with my friend, but my back has been acting up and I’ve been feeling run down.  I decided that while he needs my time and my support, I won’t be able to give him that if I am ill or in pain.  So today was about me.

Oftentimes we feel guilty taking that personal time and we push ourselves to be everything that people need us to be, but if we don’t set some boundaries and if we don’t make time to care for ourselves be it exercise, meditation, relaxation, a laugh with friends, or a healthy meal then we will end up failing everyone, ourselves included.  It is amazing what we as humans can endure and often caregivers go on for years without taking sufficient time to recharge, but not doing so will lead to a crash sooner or later.

As outsiders watching a friend or colleague adopt a caregiver role there are lots of ways we can help like making food, offering transportation, offering to assist with running errands, or taking the caregiver out for a coffee, but even more important is reminding the caregiver that it is in everyone’s best interest that they take a break and that it is  not only OK, but it is absolutely necessary to be a little selfish and look after themselves too.

– the Goddess

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