Self-care is a critical aspect of caregiving. Whether you're caring for a parent, spouse, sibling or other loved one who has been diagnosed with cancer, there are many ways in which you can take care of yourself while still being there for them. Here are some ideas on how to do this:
Take time for yourself.
Taking time to care for your health and other responsibilities is not selfish. In fact, it's vital to your ability to help others. If you are burned out, stressed out, and exhausted all the time, how can anyone expect you to take care of them? Taking care of yourself means making sure that your needs – emotional or physical – are met so that you can continue taking care of those who need it most.
There are many simple self-care activities that don't require much time or money like reading a book, going outside, going on walks with friends, getting enough sleep each night, meditating/praying/reflecting quietly for 10 minutes each morning. Caregivers often feel guilty about taking time away from their loved ones to get some rest, but research shows that getting some “me time” is crucial to maintaining your own health when caring for someone else who needs constant attention and support.
Eat a healthy diet and exercise.
It can be difficult to find time for a healthy diet when caring for a loved one. But it's important to eat well, especially if you're not getting enough sleep. A good way to start is by making sure you eat breakfast every day and keep track of how much food you're consuming throughout the day. Eating regularly helps keep blood sugar levels stable, which keeps your energy up so that you have more resources available for taking care of your loved ones!
Exercise is a great way to improve your mood, reduce stress and sleep better. Exercise can also help you maintain a healthy weight and increase energy levels. The best type of exercise for caregivers is the one that's right for them – whether that's walking around the block or going for a run every morning before work. The key is finding something that fits into your daily routine without adding too much extra time or effort on top of all the other things you're already doing as a caregiver.
Talk with family and friends to find support.
Talking to your family and friends about what you're going through is another important way to take care of yourself. They may be able to offer advice, listen when you need someone to talk with, and help you feel less alone in the process.
They can also help by providing a break from caregiving duties so that you can get some much-needed rest or go out for an enjoyable activity without worrying about who's watching over the person who needs care. And if there comes a point when getting outside support becomes necessary, don't hesitate to ask for it – your loved one will be better off because of it!
Give yourself credit.
You may not think that what you do is important or even worth it because of the amount of effort required to complete a task. Recognize that you are doing a good job, and celebrate your successes! Do something nice for yourself by taking time out of your busy schedule to relax. Give yourself a reward – maybe an extra hour of sleep or some time at the spa.
Share your feelings with others who understand.
If you're struggling with caregiving, it's important to know that there are many people in your community who understand what you're going through. It can be difficult to open up about your feelings, but when we share our stories with others who care about us, the burden of caring lessens and the support system grows stronger.
If talking doesn't feel like the right option for you right now, try writing in a journal or talking on the phone with someone close to you (such as a friend or family member). You might also consider joining a support group where others are dealing with similar issues; this could bring some ease as well.
It can be easy to get caught up in the demands of caregiving and forget about your own needs. The most important thing about caregiving is that you take care of yourself too. That may seem like an obvious statement, but it's something many people forget when they're in the thick of caring for others. Caregivers who regularly practice self-care tend to be more successful at managing their responsibilities than those who don’t. So find ways that work for you – whether it's taking a walk around the block or sleeping in until noon on Saturday morning! Always remember that you can’t be your best for others if you aren't caring for yourself, so don’t forget to take some time for yourself. You deserve it!