If you’re a caregiver, you may find that the job can sometimes use up your energy, emotional resources, and humor. Like many caregivers, you’ve given your own needs low priority.
But when you care for someone who depends on you, you need to be at your best. Follow these guidelines to help cope with stress, regain energy, and find hope.
Assemble a caregiving team
Accept that you cannot do it all. Just as your loved one has a team of professionals for his or her medical care, you should put together a support team for caregiving.
- Consider whether your loved one needs professional nursing care.
- Ask for help from other family members and friends.
- Delegate responsibilities, such as housecleaning, child care, grocery shopping, errands, and bill paying.
Take care of yourself
Tending to your own health needs is not selfish; it’s part of the job.
- Eat nutritious meals. It’s not always easy to eat right when you’re caring for someone else. But it’s important to remember that you need to care for yourself as well during this difficult time.
- Get adequate sleep and visit your doctor for regular checkups.
- Make time for exercise—at least 30 minutes a day, 4 to 6 times a week. Working out can give you extra energy, reduce stress, and boost your mood.
Allow yourself time off from caregiving.
- Pursue your own interests and social activities.
- Meet a friend for lunch, see a movie, or dine out.
- The change of scenery and opportunity for smiles and laughter can be rejuvenating.
- Share your feelings with trusted friends so you can vent frustrations.
- Talk to your doctor, clergy member, social worker, or counselor if stress or despair becomes overwhelming.