Welcome to 31 Days Of Self-care

Self-care is essential to keeping life in balance.

It was from one of my several caregiving roles that I learned the importance of self-care and the relationship to keeping life in balance.

A few years ago, I moved to Delaware to take care of a family member.

Betty had called to inform me she only had two weeks to live. She was losing her battle with a rare form of breast cancer. Would I come to take care of her? Well, I had made a promise nine months before. Of course, my answer was “yes”.

I canceled a speaking engagement. Booked my flight. Said goodbye to my husband and family and off I flew from Maine to Delaware.

Two weeks turned into several months. My heart knew I had done the right thing, but unbeknownst to me, taking its toll was the stress of responsibility for everything both in Delaware and back home in Maine; having no time to myself; missing all that was familiar back home; feeling alienated.

A short time after returning to Maine, I vividly remember sitting in the car one day with my husband. He stared at me in disbelief (read “who are you? and what have you done with my wife?”) as with seemingly no provocation, I released pent-up stress. I left nothing unturned that I felt hadn’t in some way intentionally harmed me.

At the end of my tirade, I was horrified. I had no idea where all of that anger had originated.

Days later, I stood in front of my refrigerator and spontaneously burst into tears!

I couldn’t remember which drawer was the cheese drawer! How could I have forgotten something that was previously so familiar? At that moment I panicked, feeling as though while in Delaware, I had obliterated my own life.

My reaction was a latent effect of not practicing self-care.

This experience inspired me to develop “The Integrity Principle of Self-Care Applied to Caregiving.” because as caregivers, we are often in conflict with “what we wish to do” vs “what we must do”.

“The Integrity Principle of Self-Care” is a combination of intention, word, and action.

When these thoughts harmonize, we create a sense of self-worth which raises our self-esteem and confidence.

We move through life aware of self and without feeling the pressure to live up to other people’s expectations.

We give ourselves permission to make decisions that are in line with who we want to be and what we want to do in life.

We are empowered to choose according to our life mission. 

Ask yourself these questions.

  • What is your intention?
  • Are you being true to your authentic self?
  • Will your word withstand the pressure?
  • Is your decision made in line with your passion and mission?

Answering these truthfully will allow the feeling of peace, strength, and empowerment. Isn’t that feeling what self-care looks to achieve?

When we apply the integrity principle to self-care, we honor and respect ourselves. We empower ourselves, knowing that whether our answer is “yes” or “no”, for ourselves, we have made the best choice.

Let’s revisit my caregiving role in Delaware.

When I was in Deleware, most of the time I reminded myself I had made the right choice to care for my dying cousin. That reminder kept me peaceful and confident. What I too often didn’t remember was that I also had to take care of myself. I should have applied the same reasoning for my own self-care choices I subconsciously applied to take care of Betty.

The less self-care I practiced, the more I was stressed. Remembering this one component would have kept me balanced. Stress managed. I would have lessened my chance of breaking down once I got home.

The key to applying the “Integrity Principle Of Self-Care” in caregiving, is making each response with love and kindness. With each practice, we experience small victories. With more practice, the process becomes second nature. We invest in ourself intentionally.

What is our ROI (Return on Investment) in self-care?

We have less fear tackling anything in life.

We are strong.

We draw other people near who also honor and respect themselves.

We move through life’s challenges and opportunities fearless and confident.