THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF-CARE
As previously mentioned, if a loved one has PTSD, it’s essential that you take care of yourself and get extra support. Looking after your own well-being isn’t selfish—it’s necessary. In addition to putting a lot of time and energy into your family member’s problems, you’re probably taking on a bigger share of the household responsibilities as well. That’s a big caregiver burden that can lead to emotional strain and physical exhaustion if you don’t take steps to recharge and find balance.
Letting your family member’s PTSD dominate your life while ignoring your own needs is a surefire recipe for burnout. In order to have the strength to be there for your loved one over the long haul, you have to nurture and care for yourself. Like proper maintenance on a car, it’s what will keep you going.
TIPS FOR TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF
Self-care begins with taking care of your physical needs: getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, eating properly, and looking after any medical issues. From there, it extends to your mental, social, and emotional needs.
- Cultivate your own support system. This can include other family members you know you can rely on, trusted friends, your own therapist or support group, or your faith community
- Make time for your own life. Don’t give up friends, hobbies, or activities that make you happy. It’s important to have things in your life that you look forward to. Spread the responsibility. You can’t do it all. Ask other family members and friends for assistance so you can take a break. You may also want to seek out respite services in your community.
- Set boundaries. Be realistic about what you’re capable of giving. Know your limits, communicate them to your family member and others involved, and stick to them. Talk to someone about your feelings. It can be a therapist, a friend, or your religious leader. Expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic, making it easier to get through tough times.
TRAUMA CAN BE “CONTAGIOUS”
Another reason why self-care is so important is because of the potential for secondary traumatization. What that means is that the spouses, partners, and family members of people with PTSD can develop their own symptoms. This can happen from listening to trauma stories or being exposed to scary symptoms like flashbacks. The more depleted and overwhelmed you feel, the greater the risk that you yourself may become traumatized.
This information comes from Help Guide
IMAGE: ‘What do I do for self-care’ by Sacha Chua