Anxious. Overwhelmed. Maybe a little resentful…
If you are caring for someone who is facing cancer, tending to a loved one who is aging, or the parent of a child with a chronic illness, these may be words that describe you. Anyone who is in the role of caregiver is vulnerable to feeling the physical and emotional toll that comes from prolonged illness. That’s why it is important for caregivers to take care of themselves, too!
Advice that you have to take care of yourself before you can care for others is not new information. But, it makes perfect sense! Of course someone who is energetic and positive is going to be a more resilient caregiver for someone in need! But taking time away from someone who needs us to do something for ourselves can feel selfish. And, when it seems that time is slipping away, it’s easy to justify spending every moment with the person we are afraid of losing. Caring for the caregiver is not always easy, but it can be easier.
These tips are recommended as TLC for you, the caregiver!
Make Time for Exercise.
You already know that exercise is important for maintaining a healthy life, but it’s also a proven stress reliever. Did you know that a 10-minute walk is more beneficial than a nap for relieving mid-day fatigue? If you can find ten to 15 minutes to do something you enjoy twice a day, three times a week, you will improve your health and ability to cope with change over time.
Reach Out. It may seem that the weight of the world is on your shoulders, but many others find themselves in the same situation as you. Joining a support group can connect you with others who understand what you are going through and can offer camaraderie and friendship. Online groups can be just as beneficial, so you don’t need to find time in your week to drive!
Accept Help. It can be difficult to let go and accept help, especially when it leads to feelings of guilt or stress. Remember that when you are burned out, the level of care you can give to others is diminished. Enlist the help of other family members and investigate ride-sharing programs in your community, who may provide transportation for your family member to their appointments.
Keep your medical appointments, too!
It is easy to put yourself last, but make sure you get your annual check-up, too. A healthy you is worth more to your aging loved one than a sick, weak you.
Eat Energy Foods. No, that doesn’t mean to rely on coffee, sodas, and sugary sweets for a pick-me-up! Meals filled with fruit and vegetables, drinking plenty of water, and eating every few hours will keep you energized and fueled for whatever comes your way. Keep healthy snacks like trail mix, sliced fruit, or protein bars on hand for times when you need to eat on the go, and ask your Wellview Health Advisor for guidance with choosing healthy items when you rely on restaurant meals. Remember, you have a team, too!
The work you do as a caregiver is important, valuable, and good. So are you. Take care of yourself – and allow others to do so as well – and everyone will be able to thrive.
Click HERE to learn more about the Wellview services available to you. We can’t wait to work with you!
– HEATHER FUSELIER, CHWC, CFP, TTS
Health Advisor | Email Heather