13 Self-Care Things That Also Care for Others

May 20, 2019

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43 Comments
  • Thank you for your wise words. I’m left wondering, however, about what the good woman on the left is checking on her phone.

    • LOL!

    • Haha! Recipe details.

    • Looks that way until you enlarge the image—she’s peeling an onion. LOL!

    • That’s the first thing I thought of when I saw the painting!! Hilarious.

      • Me, too!

        • Me, three,

        • Me too! How funny! I’ll also throw in a plug for VolunteerMatch.org. You enter in your details (location, interests, availability) and it shows you a bunch of volunteer opportunities that you might like, short term and long term. Then it makes it super-easy to contact the right person to say you can help.

  • mitered crosses link doesn’t work right (leads to an Apple ad)

    • Whoops – will fix. Thank you!

      • Wow, I was just reminded (by clicking the link above) that Mercy Corps will be the recipient of the proceeds of sales of this pattern. Mercy Corps is located here in Portland, OR and they are a FABULOUS organization! Their CEO is Neal Keny-Guyer, and his wife is Alyssa Keny-Guyer, our state representative in Salem. They live in our neighborhood and are a wonderful couple doing really important work. THANK YOU, KAY!!

  • It is too bad the links in the Jim haynes article other than his are all broken or gone. This was a good idea.

  • Host a Group Muse house concert (www.groupmuse.com) if you live in a community where they currently are offered. Or attend one. I find hosting incredibly restorative, joyful, sharing, fun.

  • I’m sorry to rain on your parade, but I am so tired of this. Have you ever been a caregiver? You don’t have time for any of this. You dread your phone ringing at odd hours. Your ‘self care’ is getting up in the morning and putting one foot in front of the other. Because you have to. If one more social worker asked me ‘How does it make you feel?’ I may have wanted to fling one of my knitting needles at them.

    • I hear you. I have many days like that! And feel guilty when I escape from care giver duty….but I know that the “me time” that I take makes it possible to “put one foot in front of the other” for another day.

    • Hey Caroline. I totally hear you. It’s been a rough year in my house. Part of my healthy survival of it was being the recipient, not the organizer, of some of these ideas. One of the really hard things for me is accepting care when I need it. I have a friend who would simply message me “You good?” Easy yes or no answer. It has led to weekly burger outing. Sometimes he invites other friends, sometimes he doesn’t. I don’t have to do anything but show up and enjoy my burger.

      I hope things get better for you soon!

      • What a good friend you have, Karen! That’s my vision, too – we give care when we can, and receive from the stronger when we can’t.

    • Oh Caroline, you are in such a tough position. And having someone give you all these grand schemes for self-care can seem like just another burden that can make you feel like weeping. It’s overwhelming to think about making dinner, much less having others over.
      It sounds like you’re in a position where self-care is done in very small, focused ways. Things like stopping to be grateful you have time to take a shower and enjoying the feeling of being clean. Spending a minute sipping a cup of tea. Knitting a row or two.
      People will tell you to reach out for help, but sometimes that isn’t possible, or feels like more effort than you can give.
      You sound like a caring person who is doing her best and giving her all. The person you are caring for is lucky to have you in their life.

    • Have been there myself. It’s so hard. The one thing I wanted was to be seen, heard, and known by the friends I did not have time for. The check-in text. The “this (small item) made me think of you. Can I send it your way?” Or even better: “what is your child into these days?” And sending a gift or book brings hours of kid focus on something other than the current situation.

    • I find that a lot of writing/speaking about self-care unfortunately doesn’t come from the perspective of someone who’s actually dealing with serious health issues, whether their own or caring for someone else’s. In those situations most typical self-care tips just are not realistic or helpful.

      In the case of this particular article, I like the notion of doing things which help others as well as bring you enjoyment, but I do wish there had been acknowledgement that these are ideas for folks in a pretty good place already. It would read as less oblivious than many articles about this topic often are.

      Caroline, I wish you strength as you endure what you’re going through, and sturdy knitting needles for when you need to lose it for a bit.

    • Caroline,I’ve been there too. I asked the hospice social worker to stop calling a month after my husband died because the sad and sympathetic tone of voice she used on the phone made me want to scream “shut up.” One of my “intent bracelets” says Self-care which I interpret as weekends with friends, knitting in the sun by the bay, and three days a week at the Y sweating my brains out. Works for me. Flinging knitting needles sounds good too. Maybe I’ll try that next.

  • Sorry people, but I did this for 15 years, until my parents and mother in law all died. Part of that time was helping my mother, before she became ill, take care of my father with dementia. At the same time, I had small children. When you are the sibling who lives close by, you bear the brunt of everything. Yes, there was an occasional bit of ‘time off’ but only if you had coverage (I had a supportive husband), and you were still on call. It affects your family, your children and yes, your career. Would I do it differently? No. But I firmly believe that only those going through it truly understand. The worst comments: ‘I don’t know how you do it.’ Well, because you have to. This is a looming crisis.

    • Yup, I totally get this. I had a similar experience, though I wasn’t in a caregiver situation. My sister-in-law said of my divorce and being a single working mother of two little girls, “I admire you so much; I don’t know how you do it.” And I thought “Well, you just keep getting up in the morning and putting one foot in front of the other. That’s how you do it.”

  • Lawyer here. Please do not try to write your will as a party game with a bunch of friends. This is just misguided advice. At the very least consult with an attorney in your locality after you put your thoughts together. This need not cost a lot.

  • Max, my mother in law is great at this- for Christmas she got massages, scheduled and everything, for the two of us and my sister in law. Another time, on my birthday, she took me out for a pedicure and foot massage. We got time together and pampering, possibly the best gifts ever.
    I know it’s not inexpensive, (I can’t afford it) but planning an experience to have with someone you love as a gift is caring for both of you.
    Also I have learned that letting someone help you, even if you feel like a burden, can be a great gift. It feels so helpless to watch someone you care about going through something hard. If you’re the one facing the hard thing, take them up on their offer of help- you’ll both feel better. If you’re the one offering help, be as specific as possible- can I take your dog for a walk since you can’t get out of bed? Can I run to the store for you? Can I bring you soup?
    Taking care of our community is self care.
    I love your column every month!

  • Lately I’ve been knitting newborn baby socks. Using leftover self striping yarn, they make me squeal with joy. I have two pairs finished and I hope to surprise a pregnant mom at a cafe soon. Random acts make me happy.

    • That is a wonderful idea! I like knitting baby socks because it’s so quick… and they’re so unbearably cute. I often give them in sets of 3 because it’s so easy to lose a sock 🙂

    • Hey, Mardi! Random yoga makes me happy. (If you’re the Mardi I think you are, you’ll understand, if not ignore that goofiness.) Baby socks are so much fun.

  • Host a Creativity Salon. I used to be part of one in Berkeley in the 90s. Someone with a fairly big house would host the salon once a month or so, and someone else would be the featured program that night teaching us how to do something we had never tried before, like glass beads or improv theater. It was lot of fun, and quite inspirational for just keeping the creativity juices flowing. At that time I was in seminary, writing lots of papers and engaged in lots of projects, so this Creativity Salon was a wonderful refresher.

  • Thank you Max. This article speaks to my heart. My dream is to knit for preemies in hospitals. I would like to be able to make preemie hats and blanket sets and maybe even with a little sweater. If possible I would also like to make some for full-term babies because sometimes the families can’t afford any of the extras. I put this off for years because of my duties as a caregiver , and also the backlash that occurred after all of that stopped . However I had such a list of things I want to make for the children of family and friends which I will first complete. As an act of self-care I have recently made a list and plan to systematically check off each child on the list blanket by blanket.

    I understand where Caroline is coming from, although our experiences are different. I am a former caregiver and I’m now learning to give to myself, which is a really tough lesson. My mom began to show symptoms of a disease when I was 11 years old. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when I was 15 years old. She passed away on the Christmas Eve when I was 54. I’m an only child; I helped my dad with my mother’s care. Even when we ended up with round-the-clock nurses for many many years there was still no end of the caregiving needed. It was painful to watch my mother decline she ended up being quadriplegic, bedridden, and prone to seizures. For the last 20 years of her life she was on life support. Except for periodic hospitalizations she was never placed in nursing care. We took care of her at home. I have always had full-time jobs as well. I am a healthcare professional so my job offered no no respite from the caregiving that I had to do at home.

    I never did too well at taking care of myself. I missed out on a home and husband and family of my own. I made good my comfort. I also tended to make families (in my mind). The people at work felt like a family, reading favorite blogs felt like family, etc. This meant that any change that would occur in these places would be like a mini crisis for me.

    Now is better. There has been a shift and I find that under all of the sadness my heart has always been happy and content. I just came through an operation on my knee and I’m doing fantastically well in less than three weeks time. I’m making lists of the children in my extended family as well as grandchildren of friends for whom I’ve never made anything each will get a blanket. I will finish two or three unfinished objects for friends. Then I’m going to fulfill my heart’s desire and knit and crochet for preemies, as well as for Me!

    Once again, Max, your article speaks to my heart, just like the sea glass does that you put on IG. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so very much for it all.

    • One sentence above reads “I made good my comfort”. It should have read “made the food my comfort”.

  • Mitered Crosses Blanket link connects me to an apple ph ad every time…..help

    • If you go to Kay Gardner’s page on Ravelry you can download it for $7:50.

  • I hosted ‘game nights’ every Friday night in February, a wet, cold month in The Netherlands.
    My teens invited their friends, I invited mine and my parents came. Not every Friday, but when they could and felt like it.

    At six pm sharp (yes,yes, I’m the controling type) a simple meal was served and at 7 pm the games started. Mostly board games like Catan and card games for the teens like ‘Cards Against Humanity’ and ‘Exploding Kittens’. And some chess (a friend of my daughters was very good!) and computer games, my father tried and conquered!

    It was big fun, I made the meals but the desserts were made by the frieinds of my daughters, several friends have organised their own gamenight and it was very nice to see each other in this easy social setting.

    • Love this!

  • These all seem like good ideas to me — even if only once a month or once a year! Carolyn’s comment makes me think of another one — give a caregiver a day off, once a week or once a month. Whichever you can manage — but not just once a year! It’s important to do it on a schedule so they have something specific to look forward to and plan for. Do it with a friend if that makes it easier. Of course don’t eliminate providing a spontaneous single offer if that’s all you can manage. Do what you can.

    • This is such a good idea. I took care of my mom for a mere three weeks in January after she fell, and I was absolutely prostrate with gratitude when my sister was able to come for 2 days.

  • I was interested to see the mitered crosses blanket but every time I clicked on it I got an ad for IPhones.

  • Great article! Except now I need Arnolds Eggs from Dot’s Diner.

  • Thank you, Max. Speaking as a librarian, please consider donating your unwanted books to your local library. At my library, book sales are able to fund our programs, from summer reading prizes for the kids to concerts and author visits for adults.

  • The link to the Mitered Crosses blanket goes to the Apple website!!! Still not fixed from when it was first reported on 5/20/19.