Self-care for caregivers
Caregiving is an extremely important job that has many rewards. But to do it well, you must take care of yourself. Try these tips to reduce your stress and feel better:
- Know that caring for yourself while you are caregiving is the most important thing you can do. In an emergency on an airplane, you put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. It’s the same with caregiving. Your loved one benefits when you take care of yourself.
- Learn about your loved one’s illness. Thinking that your loved one is being difficult on purpose can lead to unnecessary stress. Usually, that is not the case—it’s their illness. Knowing about the symptoms and difficulties of your loved one’s diagnosis can help you remember this fact.
- Understand what you can and cannot change. Trying to change things that are outside of your control can be frustrating and stressful. You can’t change another person’s behavior, but you can control how you react.
- Give yourself credit. Try not to feel guilty because you can’t be the “perfect caregiver.” It’s an impossible standard to live up to. Instead, acknowledge that you are doing your best!
- Take advantage of community resources. Support groups, transportation services, meal delivery organizations, and home-care services can lighten your load and help you feel connected.
- Ask for help and accept it when offered. Many people will want to help but won’t know how. Offer a few specific suggestions that your helper can choose from.
- Find time to relax. Doing yoga, meditating, praying, practicing deep breathing, and listening to soothing music are all things you can try for a few minutes a day. Taking time for yourself is just as important as spending time on others.
- Keep up with your own doctor appointments. Don’t ignore symptoms such as stress, difficulty sleeping, extreme tiredness, or changes in appetite or behavior. You can’t care for someone when you're not at your best.
To learn more about stress management, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-355-0885. We are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. MT.