The vast majority of caregivers value the experience of caring for a loved one; however, a survey reports that many feel overwhelmed by the tasks at some point.
Despite the fulfillment it brings, nearly 50% of survey respondents find it difficult to manage work-life balance when serving as a caregiver.
If you’re experiencing feelings of physical, mental or emotional exhaustion, it’s time to take a step back and focus on yourself. When you care for your personal health and happiness, the person you care for will benefit, too.
To help you practice self-care amid the stress of everyday life and caregiving, we identify three tips and tricks for caregivers to exercise below.
1. Take a break from caregiver responsibilities.
The first step in practicing self-care is recognizing when you need to take a break from caregiver responsibilities. If you can identify the signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout, then ask for and accept help when offered. Use your personal network of close family members and friends to help you maintain your own well being in trying times.
Look for areas where you can take a step back—like driving your loved one to and from appointments. You don’t have to give up all responsibilities, but you do need to schedule breaks to refresh and recharge.
While you’re taking a break, focus on tasks for yourself. What relaxes you? Is there something you enjoy that you’ve had to give up while caregiving? Whether it’s reading a new book, cooking a favorite recipe, meeting an old friend going to the spa or taking regular walks, it’s important to do something for yourself that you enjoy.
2. Communicate your needs in a constructive manner.
Caregiving involves much more than just the physical tasks of looking after another person. It requires open and honest communication between you and your loved one, as well as other family members and friends.
To help you effectively express your needs with others, take a moment to reflect.
How are you feeling? What challenges and concerns do you have? Are you getting the help you need to effectively care for your loved one on top of other responsibilities?
While not always easy to do, having these conversations ensures your voice is heard. Furthermore, knowing how to express your feelings is one of the most important facets of self-care.
>>>Related Resource: Download Busch’s Essential Guide to Meaningful Conversation to improve your everyday conversations with the one you care for.
3. Forgive yourself for the things you can’t control.
Caregiving involves a range of emotions. While some days you feel hopeful, other days you may feel helpless. Forgive yourself—often.
When you try to fix things out of your control, you will only increase your sense of frustration. At times, these feelings form personal barriers, keeping you from taking care of yourself.
To prevent unwarranted stress, identify the areas you can control like proper eating, drinking, sleeping and exercising. Caregiving can be all consuming, so maintaining your personal health is critical to self-care.
On the contrary, there are areas outside of your control. When dealing with an uncontrollable situation—like a progressive disease or illness—remember to keep your attention on the things you can control. Reflecting on the fact that you get to spend ample time with your love one in their final months and years can help you remain positive.
For caregivers who get overwhelmed easily, an important self-care tip to practice is learning how to see the glass half full, rather than half empty.
Talk to Your Loved One About End-of-Life Planning
If your loved one’s health is quickly declining, we encourage you to have conversations about preplanning. While not the easiest subject to discuss, preplanning gives you and your family peace of mind, knowing everyone is on the same page as end-of-life nears. For more information about preplanning, download the Seniors’ Guide to Funeral Arrangements: How Preplanning Can Save Time, Money and Worry.
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