Being a caregiver for someone with a disease or disability can be a difficult experience. Whether you are caring for someone with cancer, substance use disorder, Down syndrome, or any other illness that requires extensive care, you can relate to the feelings of stress, fear, and loneliness. Many people say you need to take care of yourself so that you can take care of your loved one. That is exactly why it’s so important for caregivers to practice self care.
Here are some suggestions for taking care of yourself so that you can be the best caregiver possible.
Make Time for Yourself
Continue to make time for the things that make you happy. Whether it’s yoga, exercise, music, or gardening, participating in activities you enjoy on a regular basis can help de-stress, and ward off feelings of sadness and depression. Additionally, taking time to be by yourself allows the mind to process and sort information. Our minds can collect, sort, and store massive amounts of data, but this information needs time to process. Taking time for yourself helps with fending off stress, feelings of depression, and helps the mind unwind and reorganize.
Stay Connected with Your Friends
Friends can be a source of support, comfort, and help. Maintaining consistent communication with your friends will make it easier to reach out to them during times of need. The ability to lean on one another during difficult times is what true friendship is about. Even by taking the time to voice/listen to struggles, and understanding the situation helps out immensely. When it is difficult to make the time to see friends stay in touch via phone calls, text messages, and emails.
Ask For Help
Ask friends and other family members for help so that you are not responsible for 100% of your loved one’s care. Even if they are not able to help care for your loved one directly, they can help with daily or weekly tasks to lessen the workload. Asking people to help with groceries, laundry, cleaning, cooking, or caring for pets can help you to feel less overwhelmed with everything on the to-do list. Asking for help with household tasks also allows you to maintain focus on your loved ones care.
Join a Support Group
While friends and other family members can be supportive, sometimes it is helpful to connect with someone who is going through the same thing you are. There are support groups for caregivers who help people with all types of diseases and disabilities. People in these support groups can provide helpful suggestions on caring for your loved one based on their own experiences. They can also caution against things that were unhelpful in their situations.
Some people are uncomfortable discussing personal family matters with strangers in a support group, and that’s okay. If you think you would prefer to seek help in a more private setting, consider seeing an individual therapist. They can provide suggestions and feedback to help you feel more supported. Contact The Light Program today to set up an intake appointment with an individual therapist.
Caregiving is an important profession in which you are the main source of aid for an individual in need. As stressful as it can be, it is a very rewarding. Being the frontline of an individual’s care can take a toll on your body, especially when there is a lot going on in your personal life. Caregiver burnout is a common side effect of not giving yourself proper self care. It’s important to be in tune with your body and listen to what it’s telling you. Brushing these symptoms aside can lead to more severe burnout down the line.