Mental Health and Self-Care Tips for Family Caregivers
Being a Family Caregiver Poses Unique Mental & Physical Health Risks
If you are the primary caregiver for a parent, spouse, child, or other loved one, there’s a good chance you would describe yourself as exhausted, stressed, or run-down. Fulfilling the myriad demands of caregiving is bound to be challenging and it certainly comes with various emotional pitfalls, but you don’t have to put your mental, emotional, and physical health on the line to be a great caregiver.
In fact, it’s better for your loved one if you don’t spend all of your time caring for them.
You might be thinking, “How can I justify taking time for myself when my loved one has so many needs?” But think about it: If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you won’t be as mentally sharp, and you may miss signs your loved one is experiencing a medical issue.
If you aren’t exercising, you’ll be less able to help your family member transfer and move around without hurting yourself.
If your stress is overwhelming and your thoughts are spinning, you won’t be emotionally available or capable of meaningful connection with your loved one.
(You get the idea.)
How to Find a Healthy Balance
At this point, you may be convinced that you need to exercise some self-care but unsure how to go about it. Here are a few things you can do to improve your mental, emotional, and physical health each week:
- Find a safe, constructive outlet where you can process your emotions. This may mean going to an hour-long counseling session, attending a local support group, or seeking advice from someone who understands how to reduce caregiver stress and is willing to listen. It is incredibly unhealthy to internalize stress, worry, guilt, and other negative emotions that may arise during the ups and downs of life as a primary caretaker. Acknowledging emotions is merely a good start and full-fledged venting is often unhealthy, but working through your feelings and concerns in a guided manner can help you regain perspective and motivation.
- Make time to do things that are healthy, uplifting, and relaxing for you. Many caregivers feel guilty about time off from being with their loved one, often becoming bored, discontent, and isolated. However, actively nurturing important relationships and engaging in hobbies and fun pastimes can make life more meaningful and make you more emotionally resilient. If you can’t take an extended break (or a real vacation), create small, built-in rest breaks and do things like go outside, read books you enjoy, and spend time with people you care about as much as possible.
- Take care of your body and listen to it. You don’t have to become a triathlete or a bodybuilder by any means, but regular exercise can make a world of difference for your mental and emotional health, in addition to improving sleep, digestion, focus, and more. Also be sure to slow down and evaluate your health whenever you feel ill, aren’t sleeping well, or sense that there may be something wrong. You won’t do your loved one any favors by running yourself into the ground, especially if you develop health problems as a result.
- Be honest if the weight of caregiving is too much to handle on your own. It is time to seek reinforcements if your role as a caregiver has become so demanding that you do not have time to exercise, sleep, maintain meaningful social connections, or take breaks. There is no shame in asking for help, and it will ultimately be best for you, your loved one, and your family as a whole if you do.
Providing Respite & Relief for Family Caregivers in Texas
Call At Home Healthcare today if you are interested in learning about your in-home care options. We provide a number of essential services for children and adults facing myriad limitations and health challenges, including everything from autism to paralysis.
Our home care services include:
- Attendant services
- Occupational therapy
- Personal care
- Physical therapy
- Private home services
- Speech therapy
We serve families and caregivers throughout Texas and are prepared to begin supporting you right away. Call (877) 959-9093 today or request care online.