You may be the caregiver, but who is taking care of you?
If you’ve ever traveled via airplane, then you’ve heard flight attendants warn that if a loss of cabin pressure occurs you should put your own oxygen mask on before helping others put theirs on. This principle of helping yourself before helping others can be related to caregiving. As a caregiver, you’re giving a significant amount of your time to help a loved one. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and stop taking care of yourself when you’re worried about the welfare of another. However, if you’re not feeling your best, you probably won’t have the energy or attitude necessary to take great care of your loved one. Try incorporating the tips below to help make sure you’re physically and mentally well.
One way to ensure your well-being as a caregiver is to eliminate any unnecessary stress. You can make a daily routine to be more productive, cook a lot of food at once to save time later, or take an afternoon off once a week. Spend some time evaluating your typical week and make a few goals to eliminate or tweak something to make your day go better.
Set aside personal time
Another great way to take care of you is to set aside personal time. This can be anything from going for a walk to having lunch with a friend. Try to set aside this “me” time every day. This can help you feel rejuvenated, de-stress, and keep a healthy perspective.
Seek social support
As a caregiver, you have a big community of other caregivers and professionals you can relate to and seek support from. Mayo Clinic recommends joining a support group or taking an instructional caregiver class to connect with others in your situation, learn the best ways to care for your loved one, and ask questions. Another form of support is regularly checking in with a friend who can make sure your own needs are being met.
Although your main focus is probably the health of your loved one, you shouldn’t disregard your own body’s health. Try to set aside regular time to exercise, sleep, and prepare healthy meals. Not only will this help you feel good, but also feel more capable to take care of your loved one and manage your daily responsibilities.
Have a healthy mindset
While you are responsible for taking care of your loved one, it’s important to remember that your job is not to cure them of their ailments. Do the best you can to take care of them, but don’t beat yourself up for things out of your control. This is where support groups are helpful. If you have frustrations or fears, talk to someone about them. Try to appreciate this time with your loved one and keep a positive attitude by making time for yourself and other family members.
Being a caregiver isn’t easy, but adding a few of these tips to your lifestyle will help you take better care of you and your loved one. Take things one day at a time and try to evaluate where you can make some changes.