Caregiving is stressful. We all know that. And if you’re a caregiver, you know all about the struggle of fitting in time to take care of yourself. There are over 43 million adults in the United States alone providing unpaid care for a family member. That’s a lot of people. And a lot of stress.
Here's four tips to improve caregiver stress and keep yourself healthy (so you can help others):
- Make an Appointment for Yourself. It’s easy to neglect making your own doctor appointment when you’re so focused on taking someone else to theirs. But your health is just as important. So call your doctor, schedule an appointment, then put it on your calendar. And make it a priority to attend.
- Diet and Exercise. This tip seems to make an appearance on every caregiver self-care list out there, right? That’s probably because it’s super important. The next time you remind your loved one to eat their veggies, be sure to heed your own advice. And exercising doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym for several hours each week. Try taking a quick walk during lunch. Research has shown that “small bursts of activity can be even more beneficial than one long workout.”
- Keep an Eye on Your Mental Health. You mental health is just as important to maintain as your physical health. Feelings like anxiety and frustration are commonplace for caregivers. Try taking a little time for yourself and do something you enjoy. Go to the movies, chat with a friend, or engage in a favorite hobby. You don’t have to take a whole day off – even a few minutes of “stepping back” and doing something other than caregiving can have positive effects on your well being.
- Ask for Help. This is usually a tough one for caregivers, but the truth is that caregiving is usually such a massive task, that it takes more than one person to handle everything. If you need help with the physical aspects of caregiving, reach out to family, friends, or health organizations like National Alliance for Caregiving. And if connecting with other caregivers is what you need, in-person and online support groups are good places to start.
Do you have additional tips for caregivers? Send them to us, and you might be featured on AbleThrive!