15 Self-Care Tips for Caregivers

Caregiving can be excruciatingly difficult work. It’s physically exhausting and emotionally taxing. There are great articles with advice on how to cope with the stresses of caregiving, but time is limited when you’re a caregiver, so here’s 15 quick ideas you may not have thought of to help you take care of yourself so that you can continue to take care of other people.

  1. Take a bath. It’s soothing and might be good for your health.
  2. Pray, if you pray.
  3. Meditate. Just sit. Observe your thoughts, and let them go.
  4. Go for a walk.
  5. Visit a pet store to get some love from furry friends. Or spend some time with furry friends at home.
  6. Stretch.
  7. Drink more water.
  8. Be proactive and create a personal support group. Call or text 3, 5, 10 (however many friends) and let them know what you do as a caregiver and the difficulties involved. List your group. Writing helps. You’ll have as many listening ears and perspectives available to you, when you need them, as the number of people you reach out to.
  9. Journal. Again, writing helps.
  10. If possible, see a therapist. And if the stigma of seeing someone to help you sort through your thoughts and feelings rubs you the wrong way, consider that your job is often helping people to sort through these same challenges. There’s no reason to deny yourself kindness when you’re always giving kindness.
  11. Exercise. And if you’re stressed about starting a routine, then the next step will help.
  12. Set goals to help you that are as small as possible. Ten pushups sounds daunting? Make it five. Five is too much? Make it one. If one is too difficult make your goal just going to the floor and getting into position. Achieving these small goals will create a pattern of success, and hey, if you’ve already met your goal of one push up, there’s no reason why you can’t do a second if you don’t want to.
  13. Get artsy. Sing to your favorite songs. Color a picture. Create three birthday cards for friends, or leave them blank and mail them to a senior center for people in need of a pick-me-up.
  14. Dress up. If your company has a dress-code that prevents you from doing so, dress up on your day off. If money’s an issue, dress in the way that you’re able that makes you feel best. Then go out and see if the change of clothes has helped your mentality.
  15. Breathe. Really breathe. Deep as you can. Count to three, or four, or five, as you breathe in. Then exhale, to the same count. Remember: you’re running on oxygen.

This list certainly doesn’t include everything you can do to help yourself manage stress as a caregiver. And of course there’s some irony: taking care of yourself to relax from work takes some work. But it’s work that will pay off.

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