Anyone can find themselves thrust into the role of caregiver in times of need, as when a child is born or family member falls ill. However, certain personify types naturally gravitate toward taking responsibility for the needs of others. Of all Myers-Briggs personality types, none is more prone to looking after others’ well-being than the Extraversion, Sensing, Feeling, Judgment type, or “ESFJ”. Warm, sensitive, dutiful, practical, and socially-attuned, the ESFJ type is frequently designated in personality indexes as “Consul Type” or simply “The Caregiver”.
ESFJs are genuine “people people”, deriving personal fulfillment from personal relationships and, specifically, making others happy. ESFJs don’t simply care about others, they care for others. Their extraversion makes Caregivers excellent at perceiving the needs of others, while their capacity for judgement gives Caregivers the strong executive function needed to take concrete steps to meet those needs. Caregivers tend to be highly responsible and to take their personal obligations seriously, including their responsibilities towards others. Other Myers-Briggs personality types that lend themselves to the role of caretaker include ISFJs and INFPs.
Looking after the interests of others, from lending emotional support to friends to physically caring for a family member, can be powerfully rewarding for Caregivers. It can also be deeply exhausting. Caregivers may find themselves overextended, overwhelmed and even taken for granted. To effectively look after others, Caregivers must look out for themselves, setting limits, maintaining boundaries and practicing self-care.
Below are 20 simple, concrete steps Caregivers can take right now to show themselves the care they deserve.
- Create an affirmation (such as “I am relaxed and fulfilled”). Repeat it throughout the day
- Give your complete attention to one task of daily living, such as showering or preparing coffee, which you usually perform on autopilot
- Clean out a cluttered drawer
- Purchase yourself a tiny gift, such as a pair of socks with a novelty print or a souvenir keychain
- Put on an upbeat song and sing along. Loudly. Bonus points for dancing
- Cuddle your pet
- Switch your phone’s wallpaper or desktop background to your best vacation photo
- Take a five-minute walk outside
- Delegate something. Can someone else handle one of your work or home duties? Is there an app that can automate one of your daily tasks?
- Find a scent that relaxes you- perhaps warm vanilla or cool peppermint- and infuse your space with it
- Steal some alone time. Hang a “do not disturb” sign on your office or bedroom door if necessary
- Take a nap. Even ten minutes of shut-eye can reset your energy
- Politely say “no” to taking on a new task that you know will drain you, even if it’s for a good cause
- Get a massage
- No time or cash to spare for bodywork? Give yourself a mini massage: place a tennis ball or foam roller behind your back and roll away the tension
- Drink up! You may be dehydrated and not realize it. Getting extra water can energize you and banish minor headaches
- Give your self a compliment- out loud
- Enjoy a feel-good childhood favorite, whether that’s an Archie comic book or an ice cream sandwich
- Clean out your closet
- Watch or read something funny. Sign up for a joke of the day or subscribe to a funny YouTube channel. Laughter really is the best medicine!
Above all, Caregivers must remember that self-care is a habit. As with any habit, consistency is the key to making it stick! Also, keep in mind that it’s more important to create a sustainable change than a dramatic one. When creating a self-care practice, start small, perform it regularly and maintain an attitude of kindness towards yourself. With time, you’ll find yourself more grounded, energized and connected than ever before.