When you’re a caregiver, you spend most, if not all, of your time concerned with the health and happiness of others. However, it doesn’t help anyone if you’re not taking the time to take care of yourself as well. It’s a cliche, but you can’t pour from an empty cup. Help yourself, and then you will be better able to help your aging loved one. You might think that you don’t have time to do this, but there are some simple ways you can prioritize self-care without disrupting your life.
Why Prioritize Self-Care
If you fail to care for your own needs, burnout is inevitable. Caregiver burnout is a common problem for adult children of aging parents, and it can lead to some serious health consequences. Burnout often leads to health concerns such as fatigue, anxiety, chronic illness, and depression. If your health suffering isn’t enough to motivate you to take care of yourself, keep in mind that when you are unwell, you can’t provide the level of care your loved one needs. Therefore, it is in both your best interest and the best interest of your aging loved one for you to take time for yourself.
Stress Reduction Steps for Caregivers
In order to care for yourself, you will need to make some lifestyle changes, but this doesn’t have to be disruptive to your life. You don’t have to completely overhaul your schedule to add self-care into the equation—a lot of it is simply an attitude adjustment.
Caregiving is inherently stressful, but how you handle that stress will make a big difference in your health. To manage stress as a caregiver:
- Identify the early warning signs. There are some obvious signs when you are running on empty. Learn to recognize them in yourself. You might feel irritable, have trouble sleeping, or start forgetting things more frequently. Pinpoint the moments you start to feel overwhelmed.
- Identify sources of stress. It helps to find the specific sources of your stress. It might be that you have too much on your plate, that there is some tension with your family, or you have a hard time setting boundaries. Knowing the source makes it possible to find solutions.
- Identify what can be changed. You cannot change other people—you only have control over yourself. Trying to control what you cannot will only serve to make you feel more frustrated. Instead, focus on what you CAN change. Even if it is something small, changing it can make you feel more empowered and ease your stress levels.
- Do something about it. It’s all well and good to reflect on your stress and understand it better, but then you have to take action. Find stress reduction tips that really work for you. For example, exercise has proven effective for reducing stress. In addition, meditation, socializing with friends, and gardening are effective stress-relievers for many. Find healthy coping mechanisms that work for you.
Self-care can be difficult when you are a full-time caregiver, and you may struggle to balance everything in your life. If that is the case, it’s time to hire a home health care aide. At Gulfshore Private Home Care, we are happy to be able to give caregivers the relief they need to care for themselves and their loved ones. Contact us today to get started.