As a caregiver do you often end up last on your own priority list? It happens so easily! It can be really hard to make time to take care of yourself when you’re so busy making sure your loved one’s needs are met in the best possible way, and especially if you’re doing it all yourself or without much help and support. And then sometimes if you do make time, it’s so easy to feel guilty or selfish about taking a few minutes to yourself.
Try reframing it as something you’re doing for your loved one instead of for yourself. Staying healthy and resilient is really one of the best things you can do for your loved one, so you can keep taking good care of them. Self-care doesn’t have to be anything big, expensive, or time-consuming either. There are a lot of little things you can do to keep up your spirits up, stay healthy and resilient.
Here are some things that caregivers have told us work well:
Call or text a friend or family member you know you can vent to, joke with, or just chat with for a minute. Set up a time every week to check in with each other if you want to.
Whenever your loved one takes a nap, take one too. Or do something that's relaxing for you - watch a TV show or movie, read a book, do yoga, have a cup of tea or your favorite drink, work on a craft project or gardening.
Post a list on your fridge of specific tasks that someone could help you with. It can be anything: picking up groceries, going to the post office, mowing the lawn, visiting with your loved one while you see your doctor, taking the dog for a walk. (Even family or friends who don’t live close could do things like order supplies to be mailed to you, order takeout delivered to you for dinner, or have a video chat with your loved one while you take a little break.) Then whenever someone asks if they can help you, show them or tell them what’s on the list and have them choose something they can do. Often people really want to help, but they don’t know how and it’s hard to think of something specific to tell them in the moment. Having a list of specific things can make it easier for them to give and you to receive.
We’ve also made some videos that show how to do easy stress relief techniques. They only take a minute or two and be done anywhere, any time. Try them and see which ones work for you:
4-Count Breathing: this is an easy, deep-breathing technique proven to release stress. It’s not going to solve any problems, but it can clear your head, sooth your emotions and help you focus and keep going. ***We've created an instructional video***
5,4,3,2,1: this is another easy, anxiety-relieving technique that uses your 5 senses to help you clear your mind and focus. ***Here is another helpful video***
If you liked these video resources, here are a few more you might enjoy:
You can also come to Tea Time with Sheri – our once weekly online support group for caregivers. It’s a great way to just take a little break and you can even stay home in your pajamas.
At Five County we have other resources and connections with community partners that can help you learn more about how to cope with caregiver stress and burnout, figure out how to get some respite time, or just get some extra support with a daily phone call. Reach out to us to see how we can help you stay healthy and resilient so you can keep taking good care of your loved one.