1. Learning to Manage Stress
Have you experienced any of the following symptoms recently: disturbed sleep, digestive issues, weight gain/loss, anxiety, moodiness, depression, memory problems? These are all common physical and emotional signs of stress. It is important that you learn how to manage your stress so that it does not take over your life. Something to keep in mind is that caregiving is a marathon – not a sprint, therefore, it is imperative that you learn how to manage your stress at this point in your caregiving journey, and continue to manage it throughout.
What to do:
- Exercise regularly – Find a physical activity that you enjoy and try to be active at least 20 minutes a day, 3-4 times a week.
- Take a break – Use respite care to allow yourself some time away from caregiving responsibilities.
- Eat well – Make sure what you’re eating is healthy and is supporting your body’s needs.
- Ask for help – To avoid caregiver burnout, get other people involved in the caregiving responsibilities.
- Take care of your health – Make sure you’re seeing your doctor about your
- Indulge – Do something to treat yourself. Go to a movie, get a pedicure, read a book on the patio, etc..
- Find support – Find a group, or someone, who understands what you’re going through to talk to.
- Say no – Remember that it is okay to say no to people.
- Maintain your sense of humor
2. Accepting Help from Others
Has someone ever offered to help you, but you told them no? Caregivers often refuse help because it would take time and energy to explain how to do something, it’s frustrating when it’s not done correctly (the way you would have done it) or they feel that it would not be right to ask for or accept help from others.
What to do:
- Ask for and accept help. You don’t have to do this all alone, but if you don’t ask for help how will your friends and family know that help is needed? Create a list of things that others can help you with, so when they ask you have something prepared.
- Take the time to explain to someone how to do something, if they help again you won’t have to explain it again and it will be one more thing to take off your to-do list.
- Accept that things won’t always be done ‘your way,’ but for every task you have help with, that is one less task for you to worry with.
3. Make Time for Yourself a Priority
Have you ever gone to bed and realized that not once today did you do something to take care of yourself, or to relieve stress? Caregivers often forget that their mental and physical health is just as important as their care recipients. Whenever you put off taking care of yourself, you increase your chances of caregiver burnout, resentment, and falling ill.
What to do:
- Establish some ‘me time’ within your day. Schedule in and make it a priority.
- Delegate responsibilities to others, to ensure you have time to take care of your mental and physical health.
- If at some point during the day you begin to feel overwhelmed, remove yourself from the situation for 5 -10 minutes to gather your thoughts and de-stress. Utilize our Mindfulness Series during this time.
“We don’t expect our cell phones to work without charging them, so we shouldn’t expect ourselves to go, and go, and go without recharging ourselves.”
-Dr. Amy D’Aprix
4. Search for and Utilize Available Resources
Have you looked in to available resources in your area? It is all too common for family caregivers to just buckle down and take care of everything without looking in to the possibility of help.
What to do: Utilize the resources below. Remember, you don’t have to do everything on your own!
This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on July 7, 2017.