Caregiving is difficult but it can be a little bit easier if you learn to take care of yourself too. Here are some guidelines for caregivers:
Take time for yourself. Take some time in the day to exercise and eat nutritious meals. Do not forget about your own health, it is important too! Getting enough sleep each night is also important for your well being. It will give you strength for the next day to carry on with your duties and prevent you from feeling exhausted. Take regular breaks from caregiving. Use the time to do something you enjoy, whether it is meeting up with friends so you can reconnect or simply relax. Lastly, stay on top of your doctor visits because you need to be well to take care of someone else.
Ask for and accept help. Family and friends are often willing to help in any way they can. Put together a list of things you want others to help you with and give the helper the option to choose which task it is they would like to do. This can be as simple as doing the grocery shopping every week or assisting with housekeeping. Remember, it is okay to ask for this help and you should not feel guilty about accepting it.
Join a support group. By joining a support group you are opening yourself to a world of benefits. You can share your experiences, feelings and thoughts with people who are in similar situations and understand your troubles. You will receive help and a chance to get your troubles off your chest. The support group will help you cope and give you a chance to leave the house, preventing feelings of loneliness. You can also build relationships with people at these meetings who are caring for someone in the same situation as your loved one.
Write it down. Take a few minutes in a day to write down everything you’ve felt within a day or two. Be completely honest with yourself and pour your heart out. Once you are done, you can simply destroy the paper. The goal is to help you understand your feelings better and be at peace with them. As you’re writing, you might think that these feelings are illogical, and that is okay! They are just feelings. Once you understand the reasons behind them, you should try to find ways to release and express them.
Stay positive and celebrate small victories. Having a positive mindset can change the way you feel about all that you do. Focus on the positive reasons behind your caregiving decision and remember why you decided to become a caregiver in the first place. Feelings of discouragement may arise on some days, but remind yourself that all your efforts make a difference. Do your best to block out the negative thoughts - remember that you are the one that’s adding value to your loved one’s life. Instead of dwelling on what is not going in the right direction, be proud of yourself. The rewards for caring for someone you love are endless.