Tackling self-care as a caregiver is often a daunting task. It feels bigger than it is because you’re comfortable taking care of someone else, but not yourself.
Take Time for You, Even Small Amounts of Time
Most caregivers find that they don’t have time for themselves, even if they knew what to do with that time. Start by taking five minutes every day just to breathe. Don’t worry about doing anything specific. Just sit somewhere comfortable for five minutes, don’t do anything else, and just focus on your breathing. That alone is going to be a little weird for you at first. As you get used to this, start taking more time and you’re probably going to have a better idea of what you want to do with that time.
Get Help with Whatever Is Overwhelming You
There’s at least one task right now on your schedule that overwhelms you, that takes longer than it should, and that frustrates you. Figure out how you can outsource that task to someone else. You might have another family member or friend who can handle it. Or it might be something that elder care providers can tackle for you. No matter what it is, someone else can do that task for you.
Eat Right, Exercise, and Get Plenty of Sleep
It’s something that you probably hear all the time, but eating right, exercising, and getting the right amount of sleep really can make a difference for you. You might feel as if it’s a wasted effort but try this experiment. For a week, make one of those a priority. If you don’t feel even a little better, cross it off your list. But if you do, pick another and prioritize it. You’re going to find that at least one of the three makes a huge difference for you.
Reach out to Others
If you haven’t been spending time with other people you care about, you may want to find ways to remedy that, too. Reach out to friends and to family members and let them know what’s going on with you. They may have wanted to support you, but didn’t know how to do so. You can open that door.
You don’t have to do everything all at once. You’re already doing so much as a caregiver. This isn’t about adding more to your “to do” list or creating more projects for you. It’s about taking care of yourself so that you can keep taking care of other people for as long as you want.