You cannot fill from an empty cup!
The Reality of Caregiving Parents to Partners…
“Self-care” is one of those annoying buzzwords that has become way overused. But it's a phrase that, at its most basic level, describes what so many caregivers need and want to do but often don't have the time or energy for. If you've ever been in the position of caring for someone else, you know all too well how easy it is to neglect your own health and wellness due to the demands of caregiving. However, caregiver burnout is a real thing and can lead to health issues such as depression and heart disease if left unchecked.
Here are some ways you can recharge your batteries when caregiving becomes too much:
1 – Give yourself permission to care for YOU!
We often hear about caregiver burnout and how important self-care is for caregivers. But what does it really mean to care for yourself? As caregiving parent or partner of someone who has been diagnosed with a serious illness, there are so many ways we can look after our own health and well-being that fall outside of your typical bucket list items.
Take walks or visits to the park, go on long drives without an agenda, take a nap when you need it (even if it's at 5pm), read books that make you happy, listen to music that speaks to your soul…and these are just some ideas! The important thing is just taking time out of each day where the focus isn't on someone else's needs but rather yours.
2 – Take the time to do things that give you a break.
It may be hard to believe, but there is a limit to how much you can do for someone else. No one should have to live in constant stress and anxiety, especially if they are caring for a loved one. Take the time to do things that give you a break.
Take a walk, go for a drive or take some time just for yourself—whatever it takes to recharge your batteries and renew your spirit! You’ll be better able to give your best when you are well rested, relaxed and energized.
3 – Don't feel guilty about taking time away from your loved one.
It’s a common misconception that caregivers are never allowed to take breaks or go on vacation, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, you need to make sure you’re taking care of yourself in order to be able to effectively care for others. Taking a few days away from your loved one can actually help you recharge and come back ready to do more for them!
4 – Let go of perfection.
Let go of perfection, because it is the enemy of good. You will never be perfect all the time and that’s okay. But you need to learn from these mistakes and progress as a caregiver and person. So if your loved one is late coming home from an appointment or forgets lunch in their backpack, don’t beat yourself up over it; instead, take note of what happened and decide how you can handle it differently next time.
5 – Set boundaries and goals.
Let's get into how to set realistic goals for yourself as a caregiver. I'll share some of the most common mistakes people make when setting goals, and how you can avoid them.
- Set goals that are specific and measurable
- Make sure your goal is achievable in the timeframe you've set for it (if applicable)
- Make sure that your goal is relevant to the situation at hand (if applicable)
- Make sure that your goal is time-bound (for example: “I will clean my house once per week” instead of “I will be a better person.”)
6 – Ask for, and accept, help when it's offered.
6 – Ask for, and accept, help when it's offered. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Don't feel guilty about asking for help from family, friends or professionals (or even your loved one). If you need to leave the room because it's too much to handle all at once, do so! There is no such thing as a “bad” day when it comes to caregiving because every day brings new challenges and experiences that are unique in their own ways.
7 – Eat well and be active.
>Eat well and be active.
> Eat a healthy diet.
> Eat a balanced diet.
> Eat a variety of foods. It’s important to eat a variety of foods from all the food groups at each meal: grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and meat/protein sources (such as fish or poultry).
8 – Make time for sleep.
Sleep is as important to your health as water, food and air. It’s critical for your ability to function. It’s important for your mental health and physical health, as well as emotional and social well-being. Sleep deprivation can also decrease the amount of time we spend engaged in meaningful activities with our loved ones—and that’s what matters most when caring for someone else!
Take care of yourself so you can take care of others!
9 – Seek out, communicate, and connect with other people who understand the daily life of a caregiver.
Sometimes the best way to recharge is to have a good laugh or vent your frustrations with people who know what you're going through.
Everyone knows that laughter is the best medicine—but did you know that laughter can also be a great stress reliever? It releases endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers) in your brain, which helps reduce stress hormones like cortisol. Try watching funny videos on YouTube or sharing funny stories with friends over dinner.
Asking for help doesn't make you weak; it shows strength and compassion for yourself and others. If someone offers to lend an ear or lend their services (like cleaning), take them up on that offer without hesitation!
“Caregiver burnout” refers to the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion that caregivers sometimes feel when caring for someone else.
We may not take care of ourselves as well as we should because our focus is on meeting the needs of our loved ones 24/7/365
You may have heard of “caregiver burnout,” but you might not know exactly what it is. Caregiver burnout refers to the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion that caregivers sometimes feel when caring for someone else. We may not take care of ourselves as well as we should because our focus is on meeting the needs of our loved ones 24/7/365.
If you are caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, caregiver burnout can be even more likely to occur. Because people with dementia often get confused about time (they may think they are still young) or forget what day it is (they may think it’s Friday when it really isn't), family members can become exhausted trying to keep them safe from harm while also arranging their schedules and activities according to their preferences—and those preferences can change from minute-to-minute!
It Is Our Hope…
I hope these tips have helped you understand the importance of taking care of yourself and give you ideas to improve your own self-care. Being a caregiver is hard work and it's easy for us to forget about ourselves in the process. It's good for both you and your loved one if you take time to recharge your energy levels, so make sure that you're getting enough rest and relaxation each day. This will help ensure that both of your needs are being met!
For more resources on caregiving parents and more head here https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/caregiving