Most days, I skip my own meals

“How can I keep from running on empty without neglecting the care my dad needs?”

Dear Carl,

I've been looking after my dad who has dementia as the main caregiver, and it feels as if I'm pushing a boulder uphill each day. From the second I open my eyes in the morning to the moment my head hits the pillow at night, I'm on the go. I’m the one ensuring my dad eats, sorting out his meds, and keeping him safe. Most days, I end up skipping my own meals and just grabbing whatever snacks I can find. I’m always tired, cranky, and my sleep is suffering.

Just thinking about taking care of myself seems overwhelming when I’ve barely got a second to breathe. I’m at a loss here. How do I keep from running on empty without neglecting my dad's needs?

Exhausted Caregiver

Dear Exhausted,

In the relentless pace of caregiving, it's incredibly easy to put your own needs last, especially when it comes to meals. You’re not alone in this—many find themselves reaching for the quickest snack just to get through the day. It's understandable; you’re doing so much to keep everything running smoothly for your loved one, and sometimes, just getting by is all you can manage.

But this habit of grabbing whatever’s handy can start to affect your health in various ways, from sleep problems to increased stress. It's a tough cycle to break, especially when your schedule feels non-stop. Here’s a gentle reminder: taking care of yourself is not just okay, it’s necessary. It’s perfectly fine to take a moment to sit down and enjoy a meal that nourishes both your body and spirit. This isn’t just about eating; it’s about giving yourself a moment of peace, a breath of relief amidst the chaos. Only when you take care of yourself can you truly, intentionally, take care of someone else.

Next time you need to eat, consider what might actually satisfy and sustain you, and allow yourself a few minutes to enjoy it. Remember, you’re doing an incredible job, and part of that job is taking care of yourself too. 🦋🦋🦋

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