Self-Care for Caregivers

Caregivers of any age are less likely than non-caregivers to practice preventive healthcare and self-care behavior. Caregivers report problems attending to their own health and well-being while managing care-giving responsibilities.

They report having Sleep deprivation, Poor eating habits, Difficulty exercising, failure to rest when ill, postponement of medical appointments for themselves. Caregivers are at increased risk for anxiety, depression, excessive use of alcohol and tobacco, and recreational drug use. Caregivers are more likely to have a chronic illness such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a tendency to be overweight. Studies show that an estimated approximately half of caregivers are clinically depressed.

To keep this from happening to you, follow these tips to nurture yourself, especially when you are at the bedside of another. When you take care of yourself, you can care for your loved one even better.

  1. Manage your Nutrition
    1. Make sure you eat well-balanced meals, regularly, take a multivitamin and drink plenty of water, throughout each day.
  2. Exercise regularly
    1. Move your body daily, a simple 15 minutes of stretching, yoga, calisthenics or walking can make a big difference. Use the stairs instead of elevators and park a little further away from the store entrance.
  3. Take in some nature
    1. Fresh air renews the body. If you only have time for a brief outing, open a window whenever possible.
  4. Sleep well and plenty
    1. You should be getting about eight hours of sleep consecutively every day or night. If you can, nap when your loved does.
  5. Take care of yourself
    1. Make sure you schedule and keep your own appointments before your issue becomes too serious.
  6. How do you feel?
    1. If needed, seek counseling for your emotions and vent to trusted family and friends. Pay attention to what your emotions are telling you.
  7. Take time for yourself
    1. Use relaxation or stress management methods such as meditation, visualization and yoga. Books and videos are available to guide you in these techniques.
  8. Read, pray, or meditate for 15 minutes each day
    1. Take time to focus on yourself. Read helpful books or magazines to uplift your mood. Seek the counsel of someone you trust and respect.
  9. Laugh more often
    1. Reminisce, share stories, or jokes with family and friends. Take joy and humor in the little things.
  10. Ask for help
    1. Friends, Family, and others in your network may be patiently awaiting the opportunity to help. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Whether or not you are a caregiver, these tips can help you lead a healthier, happier lifestyle. If you are concerned about changing everything at one time, choose one or two that you would like to start focusing on and then expand to others later. I’m sure you have heard at least some of these before, there is definitely truth in them. You have to remember that you are important and need taken care of, too!

-Karrlita F.