Transformation Self-Care

If you have ever been a caregiver or currently are a caregiver you have heard the words “You need to take care of yourself”.  But actually caring for yourself while caring for those in medical and emotional need is a challenge to say the least.  I have written a lot about how to take care of yourself, but even with the knowledge, I still find it hard to execute and balance my needs with those in need.

I recently read this article in Today’s Caregiver by Mary Tutterow and her words spoke to me.  Rather than say the same thing in so many other words, I want to pass this on in hopes that it may help change your perspective.  At the end of this article is a link to practical suggestions.

The Kind of Care that Changes Everything

If you are caring for someone with a chronic illness, disabilities or age-related issues, I know you hear this all the time, like my husband and I do, “You need to take better care of yourself.” I don’t care who it comes from, it feels like a slap in the face. After all we’re doing the best we can, given our particular circumstances, right? But we know It’s true. There’s statistical proof that caregivers tend to neglect their own health, suffer stress levels equal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), experience depression and have increased mortality risk.

My husband and I have raised two children. Our son is out on his own now, but we still care for our adult daughter who is mentally and physically challenged and has seizures each day. For a while there, we were also caring for my mother-in-law through cancer and early-stages of dementia. If we hear it once, we hear it a million times from loving friends and family, “You need to take better care of YOURSELVES!”

But where to start – the gym, a doctor, a vacation, a therapist, a bubble bath with candles? Where to find the time? Where to find the support to be free to do the self-care? We are overwhelmed with important but relentless doctor’s appointments, therapies, hospital stays, special diets, paperwork, runs to the pharmacy, as well as companionship, entertainment and research!

I’ve read the books, joined support groups, downloaded checklists, set up flow charts. I must confess the books, charts and checklists just stressed me out even more, reminding me of all I wasn’t doing! Guilt, blame, fear, anger, resentment and self-pity were oozing into my formerly upbeat psyche – effecting everything.

The moment came when my husband and I were at our wit’s end. What we were doing wasn’t working. Our patience was wearing thin with everyone. Our finances were wearing thin. Our marriage was getting dicey (not spicy!) and we were lonely and exhausted. Not knowing what else to do, we just up and quit the craziness. Dropped out. Let go. Gave up – and then said, “There has to be a better way.” It was the best thing we ever did.

Dropping out was like jumping off the gerbil wheel onto solid ground. We could stand there and look at the vicious, demanding cycle and realize that we had choices. That realization alone gave us tremendous freedom and peace. Sure, we had responsibilities and work to do, but armed with a fresh perspective, we could stop being burdened and beat down by the work and be blessed by it instead. In a nutshell, this is the work we did. We now call it our Five Steps to Transformation.

  1. 1Assess: Take an honest look at the facts of your situation. What is on your plate?

Example: I’m caring for my mother-in-law with cancer and dementia and my daughter with autism. Finances are tight. I’ve given up my career to do this. My husband is working all the time to make up the difference. There is no one to help.

You might include any conflicts you are having with other friends, families, neighbors. Are you in good health? In debt? What are your work responsibilities? Are you upset with current world affairs? You’ll quickly see that there are many other factors that are putting pressure on you – not just caregiving.

  1. 2Acknowledge: Recognize the facts and how they make you feel.

Example: I am exhausted and lonely. I feel sad and overwhelmed most days. I’m mad that my spouse won’t help. I’m mad at God for letting this happen. I cry a lot. I feel so guilty at how angry and impatient I am with everyone and everything.

You may also feel resentment at the freedom of others. You may feel left out, overlooked and unappreciated. You may be feeling self-pity, worry of what others think, and fear of the future. The burden of these feelings can be overwhelming. By recognizing this, your begin to realize you can choose another way to feel.

  1. Align: Arrange your thoughts so that they line up with God’s Truth.

Example: There’s a better way to look at this. This can’t all be up to me. Help is available. God, You love this person I am caring for even more than I do. I want to know that You are real and in control, because I am losing it.

A spiritual anchor is essential. The secular world would have us believe that the weak are disposable and you are a fool to waste your time on them, but nearly every faith tradition will remind you that loving and serving others is the highest calling.

  1. Affirm: Testify, declare or assert that Truth.

Example: It doesn’t matter what other people think. God loves me and the person I am caring for. He is in control, not me. I am open to what comes next. Nothing is impossible with God. Trials can make me stronger. I am not alone.

Intentionally thinking, saying, and writing (journaling is a powerful tool for transformation) from this new perspective helps make it more real and therefore easier to act on.

  1. Act: Do something in or through that Truth.

Example: I’ll stop talking about things that are discouraging and be grateful for what I’m learning. I’ll look for good with intention. I’ll take a deep breath and re-center before I say something sharp or hurtful. I’ll show respect and compassion to the people I care for by listening to them, holding them gently, waiting patiently. I’ll welcome the awkward help of well-meaning friends and neighbors. I will not judge. I will forgive.

Actions that come from love and not fear change people and situations.

It didn’t happen overnight, but with intentionality and commitment, the shift began to take place in us and we could see that loving and caring for someone (even someone who had become difficult to love) is the most important thing anyone can do.

What we believed to be the death of us was actually an invitation to a new beginning. That’s what transformational self-care is all about – a shift in perspective. This isn’t something that we are meant to endure and get over. We are meant to let it mold and shape us into people who can love with unconditional love and be content, regardless of our circumstances. This kind of self-care has lasting and far reaching effects. It can quite literally change everything – ourselves, the people we care for, our families, even our communities. As you go about your extraordinary daily responsibilities in peace and with unconditional love, you become a sign of hope to a hurting world.

self care Tips transformation care for the caregiver

by Mary Tutterow


Thank you for reading my post.  If you have found it encouraging please consider liking, commenting or sharing it.  Feel free to even re-blog – may these words take flight!

I have additional insights I’d love to share with you found in the pages of my debut book: Surviving Medical Mayhem – Laughing When It Hurts.  To order a copy or learn more go to my website at


Blessings for Health & Wellness.


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