If you care for a loved one with disabilities, then you know that caregiving is more than a full-time job. Family caregivers are family members who provide assistance and care for an individual with a disability. While providing compassionate care is a rewarding experience, it also takes its toll. Because caregivers are so selfless on an everyday basis, they can end up experiencing a sense of burnout or compassion fatigue. Caregivers are always taking care of the people they love, but it is just as important for them to take care of their own well-being. If a family caregiver doesn’t find time for self-care, then they won’t be able to provide adequate care for their loved one.
Caregiver burnout can come with many side effects, including:
- Overlooking one’s own health
- Sleep deprivation
- Lack of exercise
- Failure to make one’s own medical appointments
- Poor diet
Of course, there are many benefits of caregiving. Family caregivers are paid in appreciation and the gratification of supporting a loved one. But, studies show that 81% of caregivers report suffering from emotional stress. That is why self-care is an essential aspect of caregiving. Here are seven self-care strategies to relax and unwind for all of the hard-working caregivers in the world.
Seven Self-Care Strategies for Family Caregivers
- Take a Break: Caregiving can feel like a 24/7 job. Scheduling small rest periods for yourself will break up the day and give you something to look forward to. Simply taking a brief walk around the block or doing a few yoga poses can help alleviate stress or fatigue. Do not feel guilty for taking time for yourself. Rather, focus on relaxation. Remember: a little break now and again will make you a better caregiver for your loved one.
- Maintain Relationships: Often, the stress of a caregiver comes from the perpetual feeling of being responsible for someone else’s health. Maintaining your personal relationships may help alleviate those stressors. Connecting with friends and family can increase your sense of belonging and boost your happiness. Abandoning your relationships will not make you a better caregiver. Having time with your loved ones will allow you to acknowledge your emotions, improve your overall well-being, and ultimately improve your quality of care.
- Eat a Well-balanced Diet: Part of practicing self-care is making sure you feel your best. One way to improve your everyday life is to eat a variety of nutritious foods and drink plenty of water. This will make you feel better physically and mentally. Prioritizing your physical health will not only enhance your body and mind, it will also improve your caregiving abilities.
- Get Enough Sleep: Even though it’s often easier said than done, getting an adequate amount of sleep every night can have a strong positive impact on your overall well-being. Prioritizing your sleep schedule will boost your mood, your energy, and your overall health. Seven hours of quality sleep every night can be a difficult task, so setting a bedtime routine can help advance your sleep goals.
- Manage Stress: The first step to managing stress is knowing what your stressors look like. Identifying early warning signs of stress can help you make changes before the stress occurs. Warning signs can look like sleep issues, irritability, and anxiety. Taking action like practicing acts of self-care can help manage your stress levels before they get too high.
- Practice Relaxation: Relaxation looks different for everyone. Adopting a calming hobby can help reduce the stress that caregiving may put on you. Some people enjoy puzzles, DIY crafts, or scrapbooking. Others prefer reading, watching their favorite television show, or taking a warm bath at the end of the day. Practicing relaxation will help you unwind and recharge.
- Ask For and Accept Help: If you are struggling with your own physical or mental health, there is no shame in reaching out for help. Whether it’s from a family member, a doctor, a friend, or a therapist, you need to accept the help you deserve. You spend the majority of your time caring for someone else, so it’s important to find room in your life for someone to care for you.
Covey is Here to Help
As a caregiver, taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of the people you love. Because if you aren’t well taken care of, then you will not be able to take care of your loved one.
Covey can help. A non-profit organization in Oshkosh and Appleton, Wisconsin, Covey supports individuals living with disabilities and their families. Whether it’s in-person, at one of our locations, or virtual from home, Covey can assist families who are in need of help caring for their loved one.
Our respite care services offer customized care to each of our client’s individual needs. We provide both short-term and long-term care for as little as two hours and up to 28 days!
Respite care can help families share the responsibility of caregiving. While our clients receive care at Covey, our goal is for their family caregivers to have an opportunity to recharge their mind and body, reconnect with hobbies and other family members, and gain a renewed sense of resolve so they can keep providing the best care possible.
For more information about what Covey provides, visit https://covey.org/. We are excited to meet you!