From Stressed to Empowered: Celebrating Self-Compassion in Our Caregiving Community

Caregiving is often described as an act of love and, while it is, it is much more than that. So much of the role of caregiving goes unnoticed from the shift in dynamic between you and your loved one, to the physical tasks, and the emotional and mental twists and turns engulfing our days, our weeks, and without knowing it, leading us into unrelenting stress and guilt. But it doesn’t have to stay this way. Caregiving isn’t just an act of love for your loved one, but an opportunity to practice love and compassion for yourself. This not only pulls you out of the cycle of burnout and guilt, but also transforms you from stressed-out caregiver to EMPOWERED self-caregiver bringing hope, confidence, and presence back into the life you’ve been too busy to enjoy. 

 

The Plight of the Caregiver

In the daily life of a caregiver, the blending of numerous responsibilities leads to an overwhelming sense of duty that can cloud the joy and fulfillment caregiving can bring. Many find themselves in a relentless cycle. There’s too much to do, but we must do it all, yet we can’t do it all, so there must be something wrong with us. We are not good enough. So we try harder, searching for the magic diet or workout, or correct hours of sleep, life hacks, anything that promises us “more time” “more energy” so that we can get more done. And I haven’t even mentioned your family, friends, or workplace…where are they in all of this? 

 

When I was struggling with caregiver burnout, I can tell you that it wasn’t just me suffering by my cycle of trying to do it all…not able to do it all…and guilt about it all. All other areas of my life were hanging on by a thread. Maybe they were all getting along fine without me, but I missed my life. I wanted more time with my husband, my children, and my friends. I wanted to HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON and recapture pieces of my life that were slipping through my hands. 

 

But it is hard to take action when you feel like your life and circumstances are out of your control. 

 

MY first step to hitting the pause button? Was to believe that it even existed for me. In fact, I didn’t even think of it as a pause. I hit a FULL STOP and asked the question…

 

What if it is a choice? What if I can do something different? And that was when I started my journey from powerless to EMPOWERED caregiver. 

 

The Shift to Empowerment

 

Once I began to gain clarity and deeper understanding of myself and what I really wanted and needed, physically, socially and emotionally, I started shifting the way I talked to myself. “I am not stuck, I can make choices hare, in caregiving, in parenting, in life.” Shifting the narrative requires embracing self-compassion. 

 

My daily mantra was, “I have done enough, I am doing enough, I am enough.” 

 

I incorporated 5-minute mindfulness techniques into my busiest of days, especially when there was a caregiving emergency. I allowed myself, I GAVE myself, the time, even if it was 5-minutes in the car in the parking lot of the hospital. This took a mindset shift too. Instead of saying, “I don’t have the time!” I said, “It is all my time. I am choosing to care for my mom, but I am going to give 5-minutes to myself.” When all of the time is yours, you can see the act of you giving it with more compassion for your loved one and yourself. 

 

Highlighting Caregiver Stories

 

I recently spoke to a caregiver who “never had the time” to take care of herself. Sound familiar? From the time she got up in the morning until the time she went to bed, she was doing something for someone else. Even her meals, and other daily “self-care” basics were just squeezed into whatever she was doing for her kids, her parents, or her husband. 

 

She was so exhausted and overwhelmed, traveling hours each way to tend to her parents’ growing needs every day while also trying to care for her kids, work, and be present in her faith community. She believed that because caregiving, parenting, and her participation in church were all acts of love, that her overwhelm and burnout was somehow a flaw on her part. She wasn’t grateful enough, she wasn’t thankful enough, she wasn’t “good enough.” and she didn’t deserve “self-care.” 

And that’s where she lost her power. She was trying to EARN the right to rest, to give herself even 5-minutes, to use her voice to ask for what she needed, wanted, and hoped for. In fact, she had lost the ability to even hear her inner voice at all. 

 

But when she started practicing self-awareness and getting clarity on her own physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, she started to develop more self-compassion, more confidence, and took control of her schedule, one 5-minute practice at a time.

 

And it does take time. Learning to listen to your true self, not the one that tells you that you aren’t doing enough, that you are a bad daughter, wife, caregiver, mom. Not the one that tells you that you should appreciate your life more (as if that cures burnout!).  

 

No, there is a voice inside you, that knows you need rest, you need space, you need hope, and joy, and passions.  There is a voice inside you that is saying, “You are worthy of the same care you give others.” 

 

And, my friend, if its not, let me say it to you now: You are worthy. Not because you take care of others. You are worthy, PERIOD.

 

For my caregiver friend, and many other caregivers I have worked with, just having enough self-awareness and self compassion to say, “I am worthy of the same care I give others,” has been enough to start them on the journey of transformation from powerless caregiver  to EMPOWERED Self-Caregiver.

 

And most of them started with a simple 5-minute stress-relieving, mindfulness practice like this one

 

You are worthy of care, of compassion, and of taking 5-minutes for yourself.

Download this 3-part HIT PAUSE & PRESS ON Guided Meditation Series and have FIVE MINUTES whenever and wherever you need it. Remind yourself you are worthy in the moments you feel most weary.

HIT PAUSE & PRESS ON Guided Meditation Series

Exhausted and stretched thin?  Feel like there’s no end in sight? 

 You deserve simple ways to feel anchored each day – even in emergencies. 

My HIT PAUSE & PRESS ON guided meditation series will give you portable tools to take 5 minutes for yourself even in the middle of caregiving chaos.

Take back moments just for you to feel in control again.

Download the HIT PAUSE & PRESS ON Guided Mediation Series and get these 5-minute meditations sent straight to your inbox.