Caring Conversations: Self-Care Tips for Family Caregivers

Pauline Coderre

Caring Conversations: Self-Care Tips for Family Caregivers

Pauline Coderre
It’s easy to lose sight of the importance of self-care while you’re juggling caregiving responsibilities.

Being a caregiver to your loved one is an important responsibility that demands a great deal of your time and energy. The stress of caregiving can have a significant effect on your emotional and physical wellbeing. You might feel sad, irritable, anxious, overwhelmed, angry, or simply exhausted. You may also get frequent headaches or other body aches. Caregiving stress can also cause you to lose or gain weight, have trouble sleeping, and have trouble concentrating.

It’s easy to lose sight of the importance of self-care while you’re juggling caregiving responsibilities. But caregiver burnout can make it difficult for you to attend to those responsibilities. In order to be the best caregiver possible, you must take care of yourself first. These self-care suggestions can help you get started.

This doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym for an hour. Even as few as 10 minutes of exercise a day can help you feel better. It can be as easy as going outside and taking a walk around the block. Anything that gets you moving counts: gardening, yoga, hiking, swimming, or dancing.

  • Accept help from others


If a friend or family member offers to help you – whether it’s running an errand for you, or assisting you with some of your caregiving duties – allow yourself to say yes. You don’t have to do everything by yourself. It’s okay to lean on others, especially during times when you feel overwhelmed or tired. To make it easier, create a list ahead of time of things that others can do to help you, and then you’ll know what to say when they ask.

When you’re pressed for time, it’s easy to stop for fast food or eat whatever is sitting in the pantry. Try to plan ahead so you have some healthier options available when you need them. Cooking a large meal at the beginning of the week leaves you with leftovers to grab when you only have a few minutes to spare. And cutting up some fruit or veggies ahead of time means you can have a quick, healthy snack at the ready.

  • Try relaxation techniques


Relaxation techniques, like T’ai Chi or breathing excercises, can help you quiet your mind and refocus your energy. This may help you feel calmer during times of stress. The Mayo Clinic provides examples of different techniques and explains how you can perform them. You can also search for videos or books on the topic to learn more.

  • Connect with caregiving resources


Take advantage of meal delivery or transportation services in your community, or join a support group. Connecting with others who are going through similar experiences can help you feel less alone, and you might also learn new ideas for making your caregiving responsibilities run more smoothly. You can also access caregiver tips and information at Lilly for Better Health.

To learn more about managing and avoiding caregiver burnout, take this self-assessment.

This is the sixth of a ten-part Caring Conversation blog series that provides caregivers with inspiration, resources, and useful tips. Caring Conversation blogs are produced through a partnership with Lilly for Better Health.

Other posts in the series:

Caring Conversations: A Lilly for Better Health and Caregiving.com Partnership

Caring Conversations: Caregiver Loneliness During the Holidays

Caring Conversations: How to talk with family about caregiving

Caring Conversations: Who is a caregiver?

Caring Conversations: Tax Tips for Family Caregivers

Caring Conversations: Building A Supportive Caregiving Community

Caring Conversations: How To Help A Caregiver

Caring Conversations: How To Advocate For The Person You Care For

Caring Conversations: A Caregiver's Guide To Elder Law

Lilly for Better Health is also having Caring Conversations with Joy’s House. You can listen to the first and second installments online.

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