Caregiving is a stressful and demanding job and to complicate matters, most new caregiving situations have a very quick onset giving the caregiver very little time to prepare for their new role. As a result, many caregivers may not fully prioritize their own health. Caregiver health may in fact be the most important priority of all, but it is easily overlooked when one is constantly caring for another while also trying to balance the challenges of a busy life. Caregivers who neglect their own health must consider what would happen to the loved ones they are caring for if their own health declines. Because caregivers are at an increased risk for side effects such as depression, illness, mental and physical exhaustion, it’s important to remember that caregivers must take care of themselves as well.
We have included 20 tips to help caregivers take care of themselves and in turn take better care of their loved ones.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Give yourself permission to have a good cry. Crying releases powerful endorphins that help to combat negative feelings.
- Talk with someone every day.
- Laugh at something at least once a day.
- Place an importance on sleep, both on the quality and the amount of sleep.
- Ask family and friends for help with some of your caregiving routines.
- Avoid noise, tension and digital lighting before you prepare to go to
- sleep. These factors can reduce the quality of sleep and increase the time needed to fall asleep.
- Reduce the amount of caffeine in your diet.
- Listen to relaxing or enjoyable music.
- Remember to take regular brakes. 10 minutes can make a world of difference and every little bit helps.
- Realize that you are human and you may not be able to care for your loved one as much as you would like to with all of your other responsibilities.
- Maintain relationships with friends and extended family.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Observe your thought habits and try to eliminate stress and thought spirals when possible.
- Go to your regularly scheduled checkup appointments, do not ignore the advice of your physician.
- Exercise, even a regularly scheduled brisk walk can help maintain better health.
- Do not feel selfish for doing things that promote your health and well-being.
- Print out blog posts from our “Caregiver’s Blog” that you find helpful.
- Seek other caregivers and communicate with them regularly.
We know just how difficult it can be to be a primary caregiver, but we want you to know that you are not alone and there are many ways to reduce stress in your daily life and find a “new normal”. For many other articles and blog posts, we suggest visiting www.tehcaregiving.org
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