Caring for Yourself

Caring for Yourself

Being a family caregiver is a stressful job—this is no surprise. The energy you spend caring for your loved one can quickly sap any other energy you have to do the things that are healthy for you. Today, we want to talk about caring for yourself and managing your time and energy in such a way that you can give yourself some leeway. We will go over some tips and some healthy strategies to make time for yourself, which will also help you preserve energy to take care of your aging loved one.

Follow these tips:

(1) Get rid of guilt: We start with this because, inevitably, one of the first emotions you may experience when trying to “make time for yourself” is guilt. You may feel this way because you think you are neglecting or ignoring your loved one, but we believe this is far from the truth. We want to remind you that it is okay to feel stressed and want time away from caregiving. Otherwise, you will burn out—and that outcome is good for no one. Guilt is a normal reaction to taking some free time for yourself, but we encourage you to manage this feeling and realize that you are not only caring for yourself by taking a break. You are also ensuring you are healthy and energized when you care for your loved one.

(2) Rest: We encourage that the one of the first things you focus on are your sleeping habits. Sleep deprivation can often be the root of many problems in one’s life, ranging from stress, weight gain, psychological health, and mood. So, we encourage that you get at least 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. To help your sleeping habits, avoid using the computer, watching TV, and scrolling on your smart phone. The “blue light” emitted from electronic screens can interfere with the melatonin levels secreted in the brain, which can disturb your sleeping schedule. Researchers at Harvard have linked blue light exposure before bed to various health threats.[1]

(3) Learn to say “no”: Saying “no” is a powerful strategy to help you manage your stress levels. Do not take on every task that comes your way, because you are sure to burn out. It is okay to say “no,” unless you have to address a dire emergency. Sometimes finding help through hiring professional caregivers can alleviate some of the burden you feel. Look into local resources to see if options exist.

(4) Accept help when offered it: Asking for help is one thing, but many people may not accept help when it is offered to them. Why not? If you are feeling overwhelmed and someone offers to help you out, then accept their help! They would not have offered unless they didn’t want to assist you.

(5) Socialize: We bring up socializing because it is often an underestimated activity to help you find health and happiness. Humans are social beings and we find happiness being around other people, especially close friends and/or family. When you have time, try to go and see friends. Go out to dinner or see a movie. Find ways to laugh. These moments will go a long way in helping you find health and happiness while being a family caregiver.

If you have any other questions, please call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website.

[1] Source: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side

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