During the month of November, we celebrate those who care day-in-and-day-out, round-the-clock for loved ones. When a loved one has a sudden injury or a medical condition that requires urgent attention, this responsibility typically falls on their immediate family. Many who take on this responsibility are ill-prepared for the emotional and physical challenges this role takes. That is why it is vital to highlight the need for self-care for the caregiver.
Self-care tips if you are a caregiver:
- Take care of your health. Just like on a plane, you must first put on your oxygen mask before you take care of others around you. Make sure you eat healthy, well-balanced meals, get adequate sleep, routinely exercise, and make sure you are maintaining your personal medical appointments and procedures.
- Be ok with saying “No.” You do not need to be everything for everyone. Saying no, without shame or excuses empowers you to create balance in your life.
- Accept help from others to give yourself a break. It is impossible for you to be “on” all the time. When offered, accept help from trusted individuals and allow yourself a moment to just breathe and tame your stress.
- Talk it out. You are not alone and there are several support groups. Seek out either a general caregivers support group, medical/injury-specific support group, or the assistance of a counselor. Support groups are for every stage of the caregiver journey and can be a valuable source of self-care, resources, and educational opportunities.
Tips to support the caregivers in your life:
- Ask them what they need. Many caregivers won’t ask for help, so it is important that you make the offer…multiple times, as they may be hesitant to accept your initial offer.
- Offer to provide respite care. This may allow them a much-needed break to implement their self-care plan.
- Work in tandem with them. Many helping hands make lighter work, less stress, and build resiliency.
- Just listen. Many times, a caregiver feels isolated and may just need a kind, listening ear to help them process all they are responsible for.
- Arranging a hot meal train (or frozen dishes) may be the perfect way to show that you care. Plus, you are providing them with a healthy meal to help them keep their energy up and promote self-care.
Being a caregiver can be difficult, but with self-care and assistance from friends, family, and support groups, the journey can be a joyful one. #FamilyCaregiversMonth