If you’re a family caregiver, you need to take care of yourself. Most importantly, you need to accept your own feelings as natural and normal. And you need to find a way to cope; coping is an individual journey and may require some trial and error. Below are five tips to relieve caregiver strain and help you care for yourself.
- Identify someone who supports you. It should be someone with whom you can talk openly–a spouse, friend or therapist.
- Change your daily habits as little as possible. You take care of yourself by building self-care into your routines. Continue to eat, sleep and exercise as you always have to the extent possible. Major changes to your routines can have big effects on your mental health. Make meeting all of your needs a priority.
- Build healthy routines. Stay connected on a daily basis to your friends, family and neighbors so that you are not socially isolated. Stay active and exercise. Avoid unhealthy coping habits such as drinking excessively.
- Find a community. Seek out others with similar experiences. It can feel good to share experiences, learn from other caregivers and know that you are not alone.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel. There are a wide variety of community services for individuals of differing abilities. This includes transportation and food services, along with professional mental and physical care that may be affordable.
This is the third in a three-part series on caregiver strain. You can read the other two parts here: Part 1: What it means to be a caregiver today: The data and Part 2: To help relieve stress, understand and recognize caregiver strain
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