Helpful Tips for Caregivers
Often for caregivers, their own needs fall second to those of others, but self-care is equally as important as care given to others. When your health and wellbeing is in check, you’re better prepared to care for someone else. We are pleased to share five tips to help caregivers take care of their own health and needs to be at their best.
Seek Support. Developing a strong network of trusted family and friends to comfort you when you’re feeling stressed is important. A simple conversation with a willing listener can do wonders. Being a caregiver can be demanding on your body, both physically and mentally. In addition to close confidants, go online and search “caregiver support group” and the name of your town or city for local support systems. You may also be able to find support groups for specific diseases or conditions, as well as varied age groups, that relate to the individual you’re caring for. If searching online isn’t for you, reach out to area faith-based organizations or community organizations to see what resources they recommend.
Sleep Soundly. Getting enough shut-eye is important for everyone – including those who provide care and health support to others. Trying to get more done by sleeping less rarely works. Sleep directly effects your mood, productivity and decision making all day long. Aim to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night so your body and mind have time to relax and repair. A hot shower or bath, a cup of (caffeine-free) tea, or even watching an episode of your favorite TV show can help calm your mind and prepare you for sleep. Keeping to a scheduled bedtime and wake time helps create consistent sleeping patterns so you can feel up to whatever the next day brings.
Exercise Regularly. As a caregiver, you may feel like you already get enough physical activity each day or you may feel too tired to do anything else. It may be hard to motivate yourself, but try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of exercise into your daily schedule. Not only will you feel good about taking care of yourself, you’ll reap the benefits of exercise like stress relief, improved mood, and a boost in energy.
Recharge Often. Setting aside time to unwind every day can help you relax and calm your mind. Don’t wait until you’re extremely overwhelmed. If you don’t have a block of time, even just a few minutes in the middle of the day can help get your stress levels under control. Try taking some deep breaths, clearing your mind and focusing on positive thoughts. If you have a few more minutes, you can relax by reading a chapter in your favorite book, working on a new word or visual puzzle or quietly meditating. Taking time to rejuvenate yourself will help you feel refreshed and ready to take on the responsibilities of your day.
Accept Help. There is no shame in accepting help from others. Being a caregiver can be demanding so when others are willing to assist, let them. Many people want to help, but aren’t sure how. Have a list of a few ways they can pitch in so you’re ready with specific ideas when they ask or when you ask them. Your friend may be able to take the person you’re caring for on a walk. Maybe neighbors can pick up groceries when they’re already heading to the store for their own. It’s ok to let others help with tasks so you don’t have to tackle everything on your own.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Please always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. Programs and services are subject to change. Managed Health Network, LLC (MHN) is a subsidiary of Health Net, LLC. The MHN companies include Managed Health Network and MHN Services, LLC. Health Net and Managed Health Network are registered service marks of Health Net, LLC or its affiliates. All rights reserved.