I feel blessed to have been a caregiver for my mother-in-law and father-in-law, both of whom died of cancer. As a young girl, I learned how a family deals with long-term illness---my mom suffered from postpartum depression.
Like most caregivers, I threw my heart and soul into taking care of my loved ones, and as much as I don't like to admit it, I saw my own health deteriorate as a result.
I wasn't sleeping much at all. I remember lying awake in bed worrying about what was happening, and frustrated that I wasn't able to accomplish everything I wanted to during the day.
I wasn't eating well, and I learned that when you don't keep fuel going to your body, it starts to shut down to protect what it has. To make matters worse, I was so consumed by my caregiver role that I didn't make time to exercise. My metabolism slowed way down, and I gained a lot of weight.
When my in-laws were sick, I had new little babies at home...several of them (I had five children in seven years). I also went back to work full-time, in a very public job as a TV News Anchor (CBS-Pittsburgh, KDKA). So I had healthy people, a high-powered job, and sick loved ones to take care of---still, because I was so happy to be doing what I was doing, I didn't feel like I was under a lot of stress! I just kept doing what I needed to do...kept trying to get it all done.
However, the body has a way of forcing you to slow down when needed. I started feeling chest pains, and ended up in an Emergency Room, which led to an overnight hospital stay hooked up to heart monitors. Fortunately, my heart checked out OK. The doctor told me I was suffering from anxiety. I was shocked! I spent a lot of time telling friends and family members who asked about me, "I'm fine." I wasn't fine. The lack of sleep, exercise, proper nutrition, and increased stress had taken its toll. This is exactly how so many caregivers become patients...and why research shows caregivers often die before the people they're taking care of!
Those experiences fuel my passion, and my mission, for helping others get back to taking care of themselves! I know there can be many obstacles in making self-care a priority. But, I am living proof that when you bust through those barriers and carve out just a little time for yourself, great things happen: Your energy will go up. You will be more positive. You will be more passionate. You will be healthier and stronger. You will be happier! And...you will have the power you need to care for all those you love, in the kind, patient way you want.
I’m excited to show you what I’ve learned about the importance of self-care, and how to make caring for yourself a priority. I know it will help you, too.
P.S. I've created an online community to help you reclaim your health and well being in easy-to-manage "missions". We gather to have real conversations about the challenges and the benefits of self-care. We learn from expert guests and each other. I'd love to have you with us!
Take Care Tips was founded by Jennifer Antkowiak, a wife, mother, caregiver, TV News Anchor, author, and entrepreneur who grew passionate about helping the world's caregivers after going through some intense caregiving experiences of her own.
Take Care Tips provides multimedia content and products that help to make life easier for caregivers. In a busy world, jennifer Cares is a trusted resource, providing important information caregivers can use to keep themselves and those they love happy and healthy.
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