If you’re supporting a survivor it can be easy to ignore your own needs. At times, you can feel helpless and alone. It can be demanding. And physically and emotionally draining. That’s why it’s important to look after yourself. The first step is the basics – eating well, staying hydrated, getting plenty of sleep, regular exercise and time out for a break and to enjoy yourself.
Try to choose healthy food which nurtures you and gives you the energy you need. When we don’t eat well, we don’t have the fuel we need. Make sure you drink enough water or herbal teas etc. Sometimes when we are stressed we forget to drink enough. Everything works better when we are hydrated. Fewer headaches, better digestion etc.
Are you getting enough sleep? It can be hard to sleep when you’re worried. When you’re not sure what to do or how to help. All of us need sleep. It helps keep us mentally and physically healthy. A routine can help. Try going to bed at the same time every night. Try to relax before bed. Breathing and mindfulness activities help with this routine. Also doing some exercise through the day or stretching/yoga in the evening can help relax us. Take your electronic devices – phone, laptop, ipad out of the bedroom. More uninterrupted sleep will help prepare you for the day’s challenges.
Remember to move. This doesn’t mean a gym membership or personal trainer. Something small – maybe 10 mins every day. And if you can’t manage that, do whatever helps to keep your body moving. Try simple stretching. A short walk in the fresh air. Even dancing to the beat of your favourite music. It all helps.
Go outside into the fresh air. Into nature. See the sun. Feel the warmth on your face. Enjoy some time in the calm of a field or bush, where you feel safe and nurtured. Take your shoes off and feel the grass or sand under your feet. Swimming in the sea is particularly energising.
Sometimes when you are supporting a survivor, it can be hard to make time for yourself. And when you do it can be hard to relax. And stop worrying. It’s also easy to feel guilty. Guilty that you want some time out. Guilty that you’re taking some time out.