Self Care for the Caregiver
Remember to care for yourself while you’re caring for someone else.
Caregiving is a labor of love and you have to take care of yourself in the process to be the best version of yourself to help your loved one. If not, you take the risk of burning out. Here are some key areas to focus on:
Your body is working in overdrive. Make sure you take the time to take care of your body and physical needs so that your body can keep you going for the important tasks.
- See your doctor as needed and make sure you are taking medications you may have as prescribed.
- Take breaks and accept help from others.
- Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule or nap when you are able to.
- Drink water; stay hydrated.
- Eating healthy foods to fuel your body.
It is harder to process your own emotions and mental state when life-changing situations occur. It’s important to check in with your feelings and actions (maybe reactions). Try the following if you feel like you are overwhelmed.
- Keep a journal.
- See a counselor or therapist.
- Love yourself and remember you are only human.
- Decrease any unnecessary stress in your life to include toxic people.
- It is okay to say “no” to someone if you need to.
- Allow yourself time to cry.
- Partake in activities that you enjoy.
- Meditate daily even if only for a few minutes a day.
- Take a hot bubble bath.
- Keep in mind all of your happy memories and share these with your loved one.
- Limit your screen time.
- Get a massage
- Make a playlist of music that helps you relax.
- Do not be concerned too much about what others may think.
- Set clear boundaries with others (visiting hours etc.).
The end of life is a difficult concept for many people to deal with. Sometimes, peace of mind and comfort comes in different forms. Take a moment to evaluate your spiritual needs and what the end of life means to you. This journey is personal for everyone.
- Attend religious/spiritual services if able to.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for a home visit from your religious/spiritual supports.
- Listen to or watch or read about topics within your religious or spiritual beliefs that interest you.
- Take time to reflect on where you are now spiritually and where you would like to be.
There are big changes happening in your everyday life, which may not leave much time for the leisure activities you once enjoyed. But withdrawal from regular activities and socializing does not help get through the challenges. Keep yourself open to connecting with others and allowing yourself joy.
- Join activities etc. that you enjoy.
- Connect with others who may be going through what you are.
- Keep in touch with loved ones and people who provide a good support system for you.
- Do not be afraid to ask for help from others you trust.
- Plan gatherings or fun activities with close friends and family if you’d like but make sure it supports your schedule and time frame as well as your boundaries. Do not be afraid to speak with your friends and family about what may overwhelm you.
One of the biggest stressors and mistakes you can make is not taking control of your finances while you have time. While your loved one is in your care, it is important to gain knowledge of financial responsibilities so that it does not become a problem later.
- Plan a budget and follow your plan.
- Make a list of prioritizing bills and dates they are due to help make sure they are paid on time.
- Pay off debt if able.
- Have an emergency fund.
- Ask questions!!! Don’t be afraid to ask for answers to questions about financial accounts and the responsibilities that come with them. “I’ll take care of that” is not a good enough answer when the future is uncertain. Ask now.
For more Self-Care tips, see the Caregiver Checklist below.