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13th Oct


Taking Care of Yourself

IN A RECENT POST we spoke of the importance of respite care. Because of the stress that accompanies caregiving, it is of fundamental importance that you get a regular break away from it all. Respite care, though, is just one aspect of self-care.

Caregiver’s Need Care Too

What should you be doing to take care of yourself? Consider that we all have certain basic needs for staying healthy and happy. We have these needs whether or not we are caregivers. If you are taking care of a loved one it becomes more important than ever before to be systematic in your self-care. As a caregiver it is all too easy to forget your own needs as you focus on taking care of someone else. In addition, if you ignore your own needs, you may become sick; and if you are sick you can no longer function effectively as a caregiver. Take the time to think about what you need to stay healthy in both body and mind.

Physical Care

Physical health is a big subject, but if you make a point of meeting certain basic needs, it will help a lot. Here are just a few things to consider.
• You need good nutrition. Your focus may be on providing food that your loved one can eat, but don’t forget your own need for well-balanced meals.
• You need exercise. It might be the last thing you think of as you face another day of caregiving. But exercise, even if it is short walk, or fifteen minutes of exercises, can help your body in many ways.
• As much as you can, get regular sleep. Take naps when you can. Nap when your loved one is napping.
• Don’t skip your own regular doctor’s appointments. If you feel yourself getting ill, then make sure you find a way to get to the doctor.

Psychological Care

Psychological health is also a big subject. Once again by paying attention to some basic needs you can more easily stay healthy and balanced within yourself.
• Don’t ignore your feelings. If you simply “stuff” those feelings they will still be there, causing you misery deep down inside. Pay attention to your emotions. Speak with close friends or, if need be, with a counselor.
• If you are religious or spiritual, do not neglect your spiritual needs. Talk with your spiritual advisor if you have one. Pray. Read.
• Try to find calm. Try doing relaxation exercises. Listen to whatever kind of music moves you from within. Consider meditation. As much as you can, find peace within yourself.
• When you get time off, do something you enjoy and something that is healthful. Get outdoors. Get a change of scenery. Have some fun. Fun is more important than most people realize! Do something different. Laugh a bit. Laugh a lot. You will feel much better.

For more information on self-care, follow these links.
Ways of nurturing yourself.
Dealing with caregiver stress and burnout.
Tips for taking care of yourself.

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