Self-Care for Caregivers: Tips on Balancing Your Own Needs with Those You Care For
Taking care of someone else is a selfless act of love, but it can easily become overwhelming.
If you are a caregiver, you know how easy it is to put the needs of the person for whom you’re helping before your own. While it’s rewarding, it may also lead to illness, frustration, depression or exhaustion, any of which may undermine your effectiveness.
Some Great Ways to Take Care of Yourself
One of the most important, and often neglected, tasks of a caregiver is to take care of yourself. Your physical, emotional and mental health is vital for the well-being of both yourself and your friend or loved one.
Here are some ways to balance your needs:
- Seek Help. It’s OK to ask for help. Just because you took on the responsibilities of a caregiver doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. There are many local and online support groups for caregivers that can offer support and provide valuable resources. When a friend or family member offers help, say “yes.” You might even want to hire a housekeeper to lighten your work load.
- Give Yourself a Break. Leisure time may seem impossible in a busy caregiving situation, but it is important to get some time to yourself. Visit with friends and don’t lose those connections. If it’s difficult to leave the house, invite friends to your place. Find time to watch a movie, read a book, paint, listen to music or do something you enjoy. The time you take to relax will enhance the quality of your caregiving.
- Eat Healthier and Exercise More. It may seem easier to eat fast food or buy microwaveable meals rather than prepare healthier meals, but a more balanced diet will give you the energy to maintain high-quality care. Even a short walk around the neighborhood can be a great way to relieve stress and take care of some of your needs. You can also include the person you’re caring for in these activities and lifestyle changes to enhance their health.
CaringBridge Sites feature a Planner – a handy calendar you can use to organize and share caregiving tasks like meal sign up, scheduling visitors, running errands, walking dogs…just about anything you need.
We’d Love to Hear About Your Experiences
If you are or have ever been a caregiver, all of us at CaringBridge truly admire you. Now, here’s a chance for you to help others like you who may be struggling with self-care issues. Please share your ideas, insights and stories here.