Women’s nature (if you’re like me, anyway) is to want to give, give, give, putting others needs and wants in front of our own. When we think of caregiver fatigue, we might think of doctors and nurses, hospice care or ill loved ones, but anyone can experience caregiver fatigue just from everyday life scenarios.
Maybe it’s family or friends or even coworkers coming to you for help – often– and you find yourself feeling unexpectedly drained. Much like the need (especially for an introvert) to recharge after a lot of socializing, we all need to recharge our batteries after a lot of giving and caring for others. Here are a few ways to replenish your empty tank.
1) Have a weekly date night with yourself. Pick a night, block it off on your calendar and then give yourself that much needed recuperation time. Enjoy a bubble bath or a fun paint night. Or just watch a movie and eat some chocolate. It may sound counterintuitive to schedule down time, but much like scheduling gym time or meal prep time, chances are that if you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen.
2) It’s ok to say no sometimes. Depending on your situation, you may have a 24/7 caregiving role, but there are probably opportunities for you to say no to friends or others asking for your help. You might find yourself saying yes even when you don’t have the energy to give anymore. Saying no is hard, but it’s ok; we can’t do everything.
3) Learn to accept help. If our tendency is to give, we usually have a lot of trouble receiving. If this is you, try thinking about it this way. When we help someone, we feel good. This is called a “helper’s high” and is actually our brain chemicals lighting up. By accepting someone’s help, we are letting another person experience that same feeling.
4) Acknowledge and accept what you can’t control. When it comes to giving, we often want to make things completely better for the other person; 99% of the time that is simply not possible. Accept that reality.
An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.