As a caregiver, do you ever have those days when you feel as though you have nothing left to give? Those feelings are normal and totally OK — it's a big job! However, you can limit those feelings by taking care of yourself (otherwise known as “caring for the caregiver”) and those difficult days can be lessened. Here are 4 Tips for Caring for the Caregiver you can start doing today:
1. Take care of YOUR mental and spiritual needs, too
Say “Yes” when someone offers assistance. No one can do it all, and caregivers are no exception. When you're feeling bogged down with responsibilities, remember it is perfectly acceptable to accept help from others.
Have an outlet. Whether it's joining an online or in person support group (or having a good friend to vent to), it's important you have a way to express your feelings of sadness, fear, anger and frustration so those feelings don't build up.
Let it go. This is more than a catchy song: It's a good mantra for everyone! Know when to let it go and breathe; worrying won't do any good anyway.
2. Take care of yourself physically
Exercise. Keeping fit helps your body handle stress and releases endorphins to help you feel better. Even if it's just a simple walk around the block, do something to get your heart pumping every day.
Eat healthy. Those doughnuts are OK here and there, but you'll need to make sure you're getting enough protein and lots of nutrients from fruits and vegetables to keep your strength up. Need recipe ideas? Check some out here!
Go to the doctor. Remember to get your regular checkups to stay healthy and feeling your best. It can be difficult, but don't neglect your preventative care.
3. Have interests outside of caregiving
Go out with friends. Participate in a monthly book club, recipe exchange, movie night or night out to recharge your batteries. Friendships are an important part of mental health.
Do something for yourself. Find a hobby — or jump back into a hobby you had on the back burner — and do it at least once a week. Perhaps scrapbooking, reading or yoga? When you are happy, you're able to be a better caregiver.
Schedule “me” time. When your life consists of making sure another person is going to their appointments and doing things they want to do, it can be easy to forget about yourself. Once a day, make sure you have at least 30 minutes to yourself to take a bath, read a book or do something else just for you. (It's not being selfish; it's good for both of you!)
Keep a notebook handy. Write down questions for doctors, things to do, ideas to consider, information to research and anything else that may make things flow more smoothly in your daily tasks.
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