When I was little I remember seeing my “tias” taking care of my grandma or my parents taking care of my “Tatarabuelo”.They would feed them, give them a bath and help them with errands. I really didn’t think much about it. I just thought: We are Family! That is what we do. I saw their acts, their care to others, but I failed to see them.
Later on, when I married my husband I had a close encounter with Autism. Alford, my brother-in-law. I learned so much about compassion, resilience and unconditional love. It was admirable how my Mother-in -Law, “Dona Paquita” like we call her, took care of him. However, I never had a grasp of what it meant to be a caretaker until I had kids of my own and one of them was diagnosed with Autism. There was guilt, depression, anger, blame, despair, confusion and exhaustion. When you are Latina, you have a sense of pride. ¡ Si se puede! ¡ Yo no me quito! You can be exhausted, sick, overwhelmed, scared but you push through. Then, one day your tank is empty and you just feel you can’t handle it anymore. You have exhausted your mind, your body, your spirit and the distance voices of generations and cultural expectations cannot shout out ¡Si se puede! loud enough. You are just “Burned”. That was my story. Can you relate?
To be a caregiver is debilitating mentally and physically. Several studies show how becoming a caregiver can increase your mortality rate by 63% in comparison to others non-caregivers peers of the same age. It is imperative to realize that in order to take care of someone else, you need to take care of yourself. It is important to embrace the reality that you are human and you have needs that are important too. Today, I want you to engage in the practice of refreshing, renewing and resetting.
As a Latina, it has been scripted in our hard-drive that from the moment you wake up You need to be everything, do everything and accomplish everything for your family and any thought of doing something that is just about YOU is Selfish. Things like going to the movies by yourself, attend a Yoga class, having a time to drink coffee with your friends or going to a therapist was considered Selfish or frowned upon. Self-care is not a weakness and doesn’t make you selfish person. I am inviting you to feel confident about creating safe places to refresh yourself, engage in self-care and take care of others without neglecting yourself in the journey.
I can tell you how many times “Voces del pasado” (old voices from the past) made me feel “less than” because my house was not perfect or I still had some basket of laundry waiting to be sorted. I decided to break free. ¡Ser Libre! I realized I needed health, peace, self-care and a sacred space to be me and grow. How can you be the best version of yourself and take care of others if you are unhappy, exhausted, bitter and drowning in a life in which your needs are not important or relevant? A mom that is healthy, centered, inspired, and refreshed is a good mom. A wife that is fulfilled, renewed and in daily awareness of what she wants, is a powerful wife that will inspire and guide her husband. I want to invite you to take care of you. I will share with you the simple things in life that will not take more than 1hr and will take your self-care to the next level.
Start your day with a short meditation. Some people call it prayer, others yoga. Whatever you call it is a time to start your day with a purpose, tell yourself positive affirmations, remind yourself of the positives in your life and declare what you want for you and your family. Every day I wake up at least 1 hour earlier to drink my coffee and feed my mind and my spirit. This few minutes by myself help to renew my mind early in the day. (Estimated 5-10)
Several studies show the benefits of body movement. Body Movement increases metabolism, better mobility, less depression episodes, better sleep and even lowers stress levels. Take 20-30 minutes to walk, do yoga, lift weights or just dance to your favorite playlists. You will be amazed of what a difference this makes. I know the doubt and guilt will try to deviate your attention from this time but push through and remind yourself of how better you would be mentally, physically and emotionally. I can’t tell you what a stress reliever it is when my daughter in the Autism Spectrum is having a difficult day and I just go from a run or a walk. It is a game changer!
It is a refresher!
At the end of the day, evaluate, what was great and what “sucked”. This exercise is important because this is not a pity party of what good or bad Caretaker you are (especially you need with people with Special needs). This is a moment to evaluate your day and make a difference for tomorrow. Is a moment to focus in a solution and brainstorm for the next day. Family life is hard and if you are caretaker, no matter how many developments and conferences you attended you are never fully prepared for the unknown. Identify what happened, think of a different way to approach it and move on. Feeling bad, guilty, depressed and kicking yourself, will not solve the situation and will leave you even more stressed, depressed and less productive. (Estimated time 5-10 minutes). This is when you reset your button, so you can start the next day with a clean slate.
It is okay to realize when you need help. It is okay to cry. It is okay to acknowledge you are overwhelmed and it is important that you do not let guilt surround you and make decisions for you. Today, allow yourself to be free to renew, refresh and reset. Find your safe place and treasure it. Take care of you and always remember to love yourself.
About the author
Giset King is a Puerto Rican native living in Houston. She is a wife, mom, educator, psychologist, autism advocate, blogger and Fitness instructor.
Giset is passionate about empowering and inspiring other women to be holistically healthy. She is a speaker, motivator and mentor for mompreneurs and other women in the Houston Community.
She is also the founder of Café Azul, an organization that inspires, motivates and educates caregivers and family related to individuals in the Autism Spectrum.