Caregivers Caring for Themselves

May 9, 2019


You’ve just moved your mom into the guest room so you can take care of her after an illness.
You’ve made arrangements to work from home because you can’t quit your job. You have all
the hospital equipment and tools you need to care for her. You’re working around the clock
doing your job and being a caregiver, but you’re exhausted. What are you going to do? It’s time
to learn some self-care techniques.

Eating well
It’s important to keep up your strength for those long hours of working and caring for your mom.
Picking up fast food may be easy, but it can quickly become a bad habit. You may think you
don’t have time to cook healthy meals, but appliances like a slow cooker or a pressure cooker
can relieve the worry associated with mealtime. The beauty of the pressure cooker is how
quickly it cooks, and you just throw everything together and close the lid. It’s healthier and
cheaper than fast food. And you can cook up one meal that provides multiple servings, meaning
less cooking in the long run.

Sleeping well

Make a point to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night so you can handle the stresses of
care giving. You can ensure a good night’s sleep by refraining from caffeine for several hours
before bedtime and settling into a quiet evening routine. Avoid vigorous exercise and stimulating
activities, such as playing video games and using electronics for at least an hour before bed.
Have a cup of tea or a glass of warm milk, and read for 15 minutes or more as part of your
gentle routine.

An exercise routine provides many benefits, including keeping your body strong. Plus, it’s critical
for stress reduction when you’re a caregiver. Take some time for yourself, and sign up for an
exercise class away from home. You also might try tai chi or yoga; if your mother has mobility
after her illness, she can join you with some gentle movements.

Joining a Support Group
Talking to others who are dealing with similar issues can be an incredibly helpful resource when
you find yourself running out of patience. Hospitals and medical offices may be able to connect
you with a local group, or you can find a support group online. Tap friends and relatives to be
supportive too, but don’t wear them out.

Writing about difficult days or situations can be very therapeutic as you navigate the world of
care giving. Charting your thoughts, concerns and feelings is a great way to work through your
emotions right now. You can keep a physical journal and add mementos to it — pieces of
ribbon, greeting cards, photos of your mom. Alternatively, you can use an app to keep your
journal. Just find something that works for your lifestyle.

Getting a massage
Every once in a while, treat yourself to a massage. If you’ve never had a massage, now’s the
time to see what the buzz is all about. This is a great way to incorporate self-care and tend to
sore, aching muscles. Be sure to ask someone to sit with mom so you can really relax and not
worry about things at home.

Treating yourself
Speaking of treating yourself, if you’ve been denying yourself joy because you’ve been worried
about mom, it’s time to live a little. Go out for ice cream, and take mom if she’s able. Bake your
favorite treat; the house will smell great with brownies or cinnamon rolls in the oven. If you’re on
a diet, light a candle that soothes you. If food treats aren’t your thing, treat yourself to tickets to
an event — a baseball game, a movie, or an art exhibit. You can get lots of mileage out of one
special day to yourself. And this goes a long way toward self-care.

Taking care of a loved one can be a full-time job. If you burn out, you aren’t going to be able to
fulfill your role as caregiver or manage much else. Taking care of yourself is just as important.
Eat well, sleep well, get some exercise, and treat yourself occasionally. These things will help you deal with the rigors of being a caregiver.




Caregiving Support Groups and Other Resources


How to Eat Right When You’re a Caregiver


Why caregivers should focus on better sleep


4 Ways Crock-Pots Simplify Your Life