Self Care for Caregivers

Mental health can be affected by being in stress-inducing situations for a long time. A significant bunch of folks navigating this journey are those who are diligently tending to their loved ones facing health challenges.These could be parents, grandparents, partners or anyone else. When loved ones are going through illnesses that affect their ability to function everyday, the family would need to step up and care for them. Sometimes, there are professionals brought in, but sometimes they may not be able to afford that. In both cases, there are one or a few family members who act as the primary caregivers. With or  without professional help, they are ultimately responsible for the daily welfare of the loved one. 

Being a caregiver is an extremely stressful situation. This stress can affect their physical and mental health. It might not be immediately obvious. But over a prolonged period of time, its effects will begin to show. It is paramount that caregivers take measures to combat this.  It’s crucial for caregivers to proactively establish a regimen of self-care practices. Maintaining their own well-being is key to ensuring they can provide optimal support to their loved ones.

If you are someone who can relate to this, we hope you are able to put in place some of these routines. Otherwise, do look out for anyone in your circles who might be in a situation. Talk to them and see how they are doing, remind them to take care of themselves.

Let’s go over these self-care tips for caregivers.

Set Expectations with Peers

The biggest cause of concern for a caregiver is expectations from outside their family.  Caregivers often grapple with a juggling act – there are work demands, social invites from friends, and family gatherings that come with their own set of expectations. These responsibilities can sometimes feel like they’re squeezing your time and energy. The smart move to alleviate potential stress and anxiety? Open up to your colleagues, friends, and extended family about what’s going on.Most people are understanding enough and would care about their well-being. They would not hold it against them and will be very accommodative. They may even be able to offer help and support. This communication and openness can go a long way.

Prioritize Meals

It is easy to delay or skip meals while prioritizing a loved one. But this will take a toll on the body. Physical and mental energy is needed to be effective care. An important part of self care is to keep meals on track and eat nutritiously. 

Sleep Extra whenever possible

Often, caregivers are woken up at odd hours, tending to their loved ones’ needs in the dead of night. This can happen multiple times in one night, can wreak havoc on their sleep quality, leaving their mental well-being at risk. . They should try to find time and take small naps during the day to recharge.  These moments can coincide with their loved ones’ rest or when there’s a helping hand available to temporarily take over caregiving duties.

Get Things off your Mind

Feeling anxious, distressed or depressed is common among caregivers. Keepng those feelings bottled up can be detrimental to mental health. They need to talk to a partner, trusted friend, relative or anyone, about how they are doing and what they are feeling, to get things off their mind. If you know somebody going through such a situation, make sure to check in with them and make them comfortable to open up when needed. 

Block some Me Time

Caregiving is as much a hustle as anything else. There is a significant risk of burnout, but there might not be any exit options here. Caregivers need to take time out for themselves, to do something they want to. This has to be a priority, to make sure they can keep going on with what they are doing. These moments can coincide with their loved ones’ rest or when there’s a helping hand available to temporarily take over caregiving duties.

Change of Environment

As often as possible, caregivers need a change of environment. It could be something as simple as Stepping outdoors to do something relaxing, away from the environment, to take their mind off the care. How often this can be done depend on the level of care needed and availability of backup. Be it once a week or once everyday, every little bit counts to recharge and refresh.

Credit and Positive Reinforcement

Caregivers, like all of us, need positive reinforcements occasionally to keep themselves going. As hard as it is to believe, they must realize that they are doing  something valuable. With them, their loved ones might not have the same level of care and comfort. It is also up to the people around to provide some of that credit and reinforcement. Being appreciated for what they are doing is the best source of motivation.

If you are a caregiver, please do take the time to focus on self care. While making sacrifices can seem like the right thing to do, taking care of yourself is the best way to ensure you take the best care of your loved ones.

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