By Breeda Miller
Is it Naptime Yet? When was the last time you asked that question? My kids never asked me and they resisted when I told that it was naptime, mostly because I needed a rest. As a caregiver, no one is going to tell you it’s naptime. No one is going to give you permission to take a nap. This is something you have to take the blanket by the corners and do for yourself. Without apology. You need to Take a Break Before You Break.
Do you eye mask?
Depending on your situation your “nap” might be ten minutes sitting down with your feet elevated. Your nap might be a few minutes in the car while waiting to pick someone up. Your nap might be a full-blown eye mask, soft pillow, cozy blanket on the couch 20-minute snooze fest. It doesn’t matter how long (15 – 20 minutes is ideal according to sleep experts) or where it is. You might not sleep at all, you might end up meditating. The important thing is to take a few minutes each day to rest and recharge.
Lose the guilt
I’m fond of saying Take a Break Before You Break and I really believe it is not only restorative, it is preventative. Recognizing when you are running on empty is essential to being able to provide care that is patient and serves the person in care in the best possible way. Self-care is not selfish, taking a break to close your eyes and rest is not lazy.
So how can you do it?
When you are in the eye of the storm – caring for people who need you 24/7, it is a challenge. You might have to make some hard choices and find someone who can support you. The time you might spend relaxing with Facebook or watching TV might be a good decision for you, to help you unwind. Or you might be doing it without actually thinking about it. Maybe those times, when your person in care is napping is a time for you to take a nap. It’s tempting to try to get things done while you have some quiet, but efficiency at the expense of your health is not a good trade-off.
Are you up for the challenge?
I want to change our culture when it comes to Taking A Break. It’s not selfish, it’s survival. Whatever your break looks like – make it a point to do that for yourself every day. It might be quiet time on your porch, a short walk, a soak in the tub, reading a juicy novel, a chat on the phone with a good friend or even, heaven forbid, a nap. We are running on empty and it’s not going to end well. For the next two weeks, I want to challenge you to Take a Break Before You Break. And to encourage other people to do the same, post a photo of you Taking A Break or a photo of the thing that represents your Break. Post it on your favorite social media with the hashtag #TakeABreak and let’s make this world a better place.
National Family Caregivers Month
The point is to inspire other caregivers to find a way, make the time, commit to taking a break every day – even for just 10 or 15 minutes. By seeing all kinds of people taking different kinds of breaks in so many different places we can change behavior. We can encourage caregivers to take time for themselves – every day. What a great way to support caregivers – November is National Family Caregivers Month.
Take a Break, Before You Break – a challenge we can all embrace. How do you Take A Break? Post a picture with the hashtag #Takeabreak. Stay tuned. This could be fun.