Managing your own care when you are caring for a family member is extremely challenging, but the only way to best care for a loved one is to ensure you are properly caring for yourself.
Caregiving is a very big job, but many people often don’t realize this, because they only see it as being part of their duty to their family. A lot of people claim that they simply do not have enough time for themselves, but there are ways that they can make time for self-care that will not disrupt all of the other things in their lives.
Spending too much time caring for a loved one and not enough time caring for yourself is bound to lead to caregiver burnout. Burnout can have serious health consequences, including chronic illness, fatigue, anxiety, irritability and depression, among other problems.
Here are some self-care tips for caregivers:
- Waking up five minutes earlier in the morning to feel less rushed.
- Committing to eating well and drinking enough water throughout the day.
- Making time to exercise, even if it’s just a 15-minute walk around the neighborhood.
- Starting a “compliments file” by documenting the nice things people say to you and reading them when you need a pick-me-up.
- Activating your self-soothing system by applying moisturizer.
- Ask for Help: People do not always know who to ask for help, but do not be afraid to call your local hospital to ask them for resources. Reaching out to ask for help for any reason is an important part of self-care for caregivers. You can always lean on friends and other family members, but there are also organizations available to help you with a variety of needs.
- Set Achievable Goals: Self-care means different things to different people, but if you set realistic goals for yourself, you will not be setting yourself up for disappointment. This relates back to the small changes that you choose to make, because those small changes can add up to have a big impact. Some examples of how you can tweak your goals to make them more achievable include the following:
- You may not be able to get away for a vacation weekend, but you can create a home spa experience. Take a long, hot bath or shower, then sit in your bathrobe reading a book or magazine, and indulge in a store-bought facemask.
- It might not be feasible to make it to the gym several days a week, but you can make a commitment to getting at least 15 minutes of time in the sun every day or have a dance break while cooking dinner.
- If your goal is to be more present in your daily life, it is easier to commit to ending your day with a short meditation rather than trying to meditate for 30 minutes a day.