Stay Connected : Balance

Those of us that are born caregivers always have that deep desire to help others (our children, our friends, the neighbor, the women you see in the store….). We are encouraged throughout our lives to use this gift (watch your brother, go help your grandmother, help our neighbor…). Many times, we go on in life to become professional care givers as well (a waitress, a nurse, a certified nursing assistant, a counselor, a teacher, a social worker…). And we enjoy it.

What we are not taught is how to care for ourselves too. We have the same basic needs as everyone else (to love and be loved, to eat healthy, to take time to think, learn, to be centered…). Some of the sacrifices make sense (to feed the last apple to our small son or daughter, to get up in the night to care for a sick family member…).

The problems can start when helping turns into enabling or even handicapping when we continue to carry our children and family when they are able to walk. It also becomes destructive to us when we forget to care for ourselves. When we don’t eat, sleep, or exercise. When we don’t have good thoughts about ourselves or learn new things we don’t receive love. We lost our connection with Nature and/or our Higher Power. Not only does this cause self-harm, it can also become destructive to our relationships. We can begin to resent those who are so dependent on us. We can become ill physically, emotionally, mentally and/or spiritually.

It can take time, but we can learn to balance our care for others with our care for self. Find your balance. For me it is often as simple as taking a walk or going for a ride out in the country and stopping and listen to the frogs, the birds, and the wind in the leaves. To others it may be creating a story, doing a craft project, riding a bike, visiting with a dear friend… At times it will mean getting help from others or seeking counseling for yourself.