If You Are a Caregiver, Make Time for Self-Care
More than 53 million Americans, or one in five adults, are family caregivers. Many of them also manage other responsibilities like work and raising children. They might also be dealing with financial problems or their own health issues.
Caregivers run the risk of burnout, putting their own physical and mental health at risk.
Self-Care Tips for Caregivers
Caregivers are prone to experiencing stress, anxiety and depression. But there are things you can do to help prevent feeling overwhelmed. One of the most important is self-care. It might be difficult to shift the focus onto yourself. Yet, to stay strong and healthy, and provide the best care, follow these self-care practices:
Take care of your body. Make sure you eat healthy foods and exercise often. Drink plenty of water and get enough sleep. See a doctor for regular check-ups and screenings.
Take care of your mental health. If you have issues such as depression or Substance Use Disorder, stick to your treatment plan. You can also create a new plan. Pay attention to your emotions. If you're struggling to cope, talk with a doctor or behavioral health professional.
Ask for help. A little help can make a big difference. Ask your family, friends, or neighbors to help you, or your loved one. You can also turn to members of religious or community groups. Make a list of tasks you need help with and ask if they can assist you. Consider other options such as adult day care or in-home caregivers.
Talk to someone. It's common for caregivers to feel sad, angry, guilty and afraid. Talking to a friend or other caregivers in a support group can help you cope.
Be kind to yourself. You may experience bouts of anger and frustration. Then you might feel guilty about these or things you might have said. That's normal, and okay. Find positive ways to manage these feelings. You can talking with a friend, exercise or reduce stress with meditation or yoga.
Make time for activities you enjoy and other relationships. Take time to recharge by doing something you enjoy. For example, reading, exploring the outdoors or spending time with people you love.
Explore financial and support resources. Learn more about financial help through Medicaid and Medicare Advantage programs. There are also many other services available for caregivers.
Don’t Neglect Yourself
As a caregiver, it's normal to think you don't have time to focus on your own wants and needs. You might feel selfish if you go out with your friends or spend time alone. But focusing on yourself and well-being is not an option. It's a necessary part of being the person on which your loved one relies.
Mental Health America. National Family Caregivers Month. Retrieved October 26, 2022 from mhanational.org.