When someone else requires high support and care, it’s instinctive for a lot of people to prioritise the needs of that person to the exclusion of their own. Feelings of guilt or negligence are commonly felt by carers or support people in instances where they may want or need to focus on their own needs.
This dynamic is revered and applauded in our society. ‘Selflessness’ seems still to be seen as a virtuous goal despite the practical impossibility of maintaining ‘selflessness’ and the detrimental functional impacts of this goal on individuals and on sustaining supportive relationships.
For the goal of effective support to be met, maintenance of our own physical and mental health is crucial. This is true of all people and all relationships.
There is also a frequently overlooked counter-productive feature common of all types of relationships. Often, habits formed with the intention of care can have the impact of increasing a person’s dependence on another, limiting their progress and their potential flourishing. I.e. Sometimes working towards a balance of care for the self, and care for the other can allow the supported person opportunities to develop more skills and independence which is a beneficial outcome of a caring relationship.
This article gives some suggestions for self-care: