Caregivers often spend all day making sure other people are getting everything they need, and it’s an exhausting, often thankless job that can lead to anxiety, stress, and depression very quickly. That’s why it’s important to take care of yourself and your own needs and to recognize what those needs are when they arise rather than putting them off.
Fortunately, there are some simple ways you can practice self-care, and it doesn’t take a lot of money or time. Self-care is simply anything that makes you feel good in a healthy way, and it can involve something as small as reading a book or as big as taking a vacation. Finding ways to help yourself relieve stress and take care of your body and mind will allow you to do your job much more easily and enjoy it at the same time. Keep reading for some tips on how to take care of yourself and prevent burnout when you’re taking care of someone else.
Make Time for You
Whether it’s 20 minutes in a relaxing bath or meeting friends for lunch, taking some time to do something you enjoy that makes you feel comfortable will help you ease stress so you can focus on other things. Make it a point to take time for yourself every day, and don’t be afraid to let your friends and family know when you need a time-out.
Practice a Hobby
Everyone needs an emotional outlet, and for caretakers, that’s especially true. Having a hobby you can practice during your downtime will help you relax and induce mindfulness, which will help you focus on the present rather than worrying about the past or future. Whether you want to paint, write, garden, bake, or make jewelry, find something you love that will give you pleasure and ease your mind.
Get Daily Exercise
Daily exercise is imperative when you’re a caregiver because it can be a very physically demanding job. Fortunately, exercising is linked to a boost in mental health, so getting your body active can actually help you emotionally and mentally as well. Look for ways to fit in a workout every day, even if it’s only for 15 or 20 minutes at a time.
Talk to Someone
Working as a caregiver can be very taxing on your mental health, especially if you are taking care of a loved one every day. If you begin to feel yourself suffering from symptoms of depression, or if you abuse substances to self-medicate because of the way you feel, it’s time to seek help. Talk to a counselor or seek treatment right away. Click here for tips on how to get started.
Making sure your own needs are met when your job is to take care of someone else isn’t always easy, but by recognizing that you do have needs, you can make an effort to ensure that they don’t overwhelm you.
Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.