Self-care for Caregivers
When you’re busy as a caregiver for others—children, adult children, siblings, parents, or partners—it’s too easy to neglect someone really important: yourself. Many of us spend more time caring for others, our clothes, and our cars than we do caring for ourselves.
Caring for yourself makes you:
Able to be there for the people in your life
Let’s go over four ways to take care of yourself!
1. Build your inner strength
It’s hard to be strong when you’re sick and tired. A healthy lifestyle gives you the strength and stamina you need to build resilience. The cornerstones for developing resilience through self-care are:
Relationships and social connection. It’s OK to ask for help.
Healthy eating. Avoid skipping meals. When eating, focus on your food and turn off distractions like the phone and TV.
Exercise and staying active. Even 10 minutes of movement can make a feel-good difference.
Sleep and relaxation. Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
Regular visits with your healthcare team. Preventive checkups and treatment of chronic conditions are important aspects of self-care.
2. Take time to relax
Spending time on yourself—even if you appear to be doing nothing—is good for you. Try these:
Take a “breather” each day.
Get a massage or haircut.
Spend time in nature.
Go on a media “fast” for a week.
Read or listen to music.
Journal for 15 minutes a day.
Move your body.
Take a warm bath or shower.
Connect with friends and those you love.
3. Create a space to recharge
Many spaces in our homes are defined by what we “do” in them. To foster mindfulness, it’s helpful to have a space—even a corner of a room—where you can just “be.” Think about how small changes in your environment—claiming a comfortable chair, decluttering a table surface, adding a scented candle—can help nourish you!
4. Update your attitude
Positive self-care is also about attitude. Instead of retreating into negative thoughts and self-defeating behaviors, focus on constructive thinking:
Foster optimism and perspective.
Recognize your strengths.
Appreciate your imperfections and unique qualities.
Reach out to and help others.
Respect your time and energy. Give yourself permission to say “no.”
Investing in yourself, in your own health and well-being, helps you in the many roles and responsibilities you have. Self-care is not selfish!