Caregiver Self-Care Tips
When you’re a caregiver, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. Caring for a loved one is stressful. If you don’t find time for yourself, that constant state of stress can lead to exhaustion, irritability, a weakened immune system, headaches, and other problems.
As many as 66 percent of caregivers are women and unfortunately, it's often in their nature to give and give until they nearly burn out. So use these tips to lower your stress today and refer back to them again.
Be kind to yourself.
You may feel like you don’t have the time or energy to care for yourself, or maybe you feel like it’s selfish. But have some compassion for yourself. You are doing tough work. Show yourself the same kindness you show your loved one. By taking care of your own needs, you will find yourself better able to take care of your loved one.
Take care of yourself physically.
Make sure you get enough sleep and nourish yourself with healthy foods because sleep deprivation and convenience foods will only add to your stress.
Create routines around bedtimes and mealtimes that will keep you on track. A 10-minute sleep routine that includes breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga can help you get more restful sleep.
Planning your meals ahead of time means you won’t skip meals or reach for highly processed or sugary foods, which will make you tired and cranky.
Practice mindfulness and deep relaxation techniques.
Even if it’s only for a few minutes each day, find time for meditation or deep relaxation. These practices will help reduce your stress and anxiety. Yoga, tai chi, mindfulness meditation, and breathing exercises are all great options for growing your mind-body connection, which will improve your overall health and lower your stress. Search online for free apps and videos to get started.
Have a support network.
Caregiving can make you feel isolated but know that you are not alone. Although it may be difficult to have an active social life, do your best to keep those connections alive.
Rely on your friends and family for social and emotional support. Chat on the phone or take a walk with a friend at least once a week. Let them help you if they are able by running an errand, making you a meal, or taking your loved one for a walk.
You should also join a caregiver support group like Duet – a non-profit, interfaith organization in the Valley that supports caregivers and older adults in a variety of ways. A support group will be full of others who understand what you’re going through and can offer you encouragement and advice. Your local hospital or other organizations may have a caregiver support group, or you may be able to find one online.
Duet is a non-profit, interfaith organization in the Valley that supports caregivers and older adults in a variety of ways.
Self-care is important.
Self-care is crucial for the caregiver. You can’t fully take care of someone else’s needs when yours are not being met.
If you have not been putting aside time for yourself, it may seem impossible or more stressful to add in “one more thing”. So start small, and know that, over time, these changes will improve your health and wellness, allowing you to better care for your loved one. Choose a few simple changes you can make and add them in one at a time. You are a caregiver—don’t neglect taking care of yourself.
As a family transition specialist, I understand the overwhelm that caregivers can face. That's why I am here to assist you with making a smooth transition for your loved one. Have questions? Connect with me today.