Caregiving Also Means Taking Care of Yourself
With National Caregivers Day celebrated on February 21, it’s important to talk about the role of the caregiver and how important it is for that person to stay healthy, both physically and mentally, while helping someone else.
Whether helping a family member or doing so as a career choice, caregivers deliver many services from personal care to running errands, to just holding a hand when needed. The hours and days may be long and demanding, but they provide support to those who need it most.
As a caregiver, you may be so focused on your loved one or client that you don't pay attention to your own health and well-being. Some frequent health complaints from caregivers include frequent headaches, bodily pain and exhaustion. Many turn to alcohol or drugs to deal with the stress.
Here are five helpful tips on how to stay healthy, both in mind and body, when you are a caregiver:
Allow yourself to express your feelings
When caregivers often do not give themselves the opportunity to feel or express emotions it eventually catches up to them. Do not suppress your emotions, but rather find an outlet to express how you are feeling. Whether it’s talking to a friend or other family member, or seeking professional help from a therapist, talking through how you are feeling will help resolve some of the issues and make you feel better.
Do something just for you.
Whether it’s joining a gym, taking an art class, or just walking in the park on a lovely day, making time for yourself is so important. While your challenges won’t go away, you might find that your everyday obstacles and stress may be a bit more manageable.
Ask for help
Don't be afraid to seek help with caregiving. Caregivers tend to want to do everything on their own and are sometimes too scared to ask for help or feel like they are not deserving of it. Reach out to other family members, a neighbor, or even a friend, if you feel overwhelmed or need a break. They can take over for you if you need time to yourself or can help with errands that you might need done for yourself. Having this support is so beneficial.
Use respite care
Respite care provides temporary support whenever and however you need it. As a result, you’ll have time to rest, run errands, or even just have fun. Not only will your emotional health benefit, but your overall relationship with your loved one can improve as well.
Find out about caregiving resources in your community. Caregiving services such as transportation, meal delivery or housekeeping may be available. Joining a support group can also be helpful because it allows you to meet other caregivers who understand what you are going through and you can learn from them. It’s also a good place to create new friendships.
If you are caring for someone 60 years or older, Acenda offers a caregivers’ support group at our Glassboro Counseling & Wellness Center on Tuesdays from 10-11:30am. For more information, call our main number.
Caregiving can have many rewards. For most caregivers, being there when a loved one needs you is a core value and something you wish to provide. But it cannot be done at the expense of your health and well-being. It is important to take care of yourself too. Clinicians in our Counseling & Wellness Centers can help you with challenges surrounding caregiving. Call our main number at 844-4-ACENDA (844-422-3632) for more information.