5 Ways to Care for Yourself as a Caregiver

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​Between work, bills, school, kids, family, parents, grandparents or just life in general, we often forget to take care of the one person who needs attention the most: you

We get so caught up in caring for oth​ers that we don't attend to our own needs, especially when we are providing care for a loved one. Being a family caregiver, we often sacrifice ourselves for their sake, often putting their needs ahead of our own. We usually justify it with something along the lines of "they took care of me and now I must take care of them." Though this is very noble, it's a position that we must take with a measure of moderation. It's hard to walk away and take a moment to yourself while someone you love depends on you. Just ask yourself: "How can I give them the love and attention they need when I am falling apart, myself?"

Here are five ways you can take care of yourself​

  1. Schedule Time For Yourself – When you carve out time for yourself into a schedule you are more likely to keep it. If you wait for a time to come around to take a breather and relax, it will never happen. Pick a part of the day or the week that you know you can schedule some "me" time and mark it in your calendar or set an alarm.
  2. Eat Well – When we become busy and overwhelmed we go for what we think is quick and easy like some drive thru or that extra coffee to get you through the day. By eating better, your body will feel better. Focus on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and proteins will serve you a lot better than the "quick and easy."
  3. Meditate – Designate a special place in your home that is just for you. It can be a patio outdoors, a home office or just a spare bedroom. What's important is that it's a place you can go and reflect on yourself; A place you can take a few deep breaths and relax. This is a great time to figure out any conflicts that are going on and you can make mental notes of what you need to focus on and accomplish Oh, and don't forget to unplug!
  4. Indulge - Take a night to just treat yourself. Go and get a mani-pedi. Go to lunch with friends or even by yourself. Do something to treat yourself every once in a while. These things will drastically help with the de-stressing process. Partake in an activity you enjoy doing and don't feel bad or guilty for doing it.
  5. Find Support - There are local caegiver support groups and other resources to help you understand the things you are feeling. In addition, you may want to look into Respite Care. Being able to take a few hours to focus on you and the things you need to do is vital to your health.

It is important that you make a conscious effort to take care of yourself. You may feel guilty or feel bad for not being their for your loved one at first but you will understand that it's absolutely necessary​ in order to care for them as well. If you follow these simple steps, you will feel less stressed and more energetic which will, in turn, have a positive impact on those who rely on you. 

I would love to hear any other ideas you may have for caring for yourself. Feel free to tweet me at @HarmsWayChad​.


Chad Pickens is the Director of Community Outreach at Cedarbrook Memory Care Community in Fresno, CA. He is also a family caregiver to his grandmother, Merilyn.​

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