caregiver drinks tea with elderly woman

Being a caregiver is both rewarding and stressful. The responsibilities can taking a toll on anyone, no matter how experienced you may be. If you find yourself feeling more tired than usual, overwhelmed, irritable, or losing interest in activities you typically enjoy, then it’s important finding some time to relax.

It’s just as important to take care of yourself as it is to help your patients. Without proper time taken out for some “you” time, you’re greatly increasing your risk for depression or anxiety, which will make it harder for you to give your best effort on the job. Below are 6 ways you can start taking care of your own health and well being today.

  1. Ask for help – If you feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to admit you need assistance. Try making a list of your needs and ask a good friend or coworker for help. Their help can come in the form of talking, cooking a meal for your family once a week, or picking up some groceries. Anything that will lighten your load is worth asking for.
  2. Focus on the good – Don’t give into guilt when you mess up. No one is a “perfect” caregiver, and this occupation is one that requires lots of learning. Instead of stewing on the wrong thing you said or did, learn from it and move on. Think about the service you’re giving to someone who truly needs it and what a beautiful job that is.
  3. Meet people who understand – Joining organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association is a great way to be involved and get connected to others who know what you’re going through. You can take CNA (certified nurse assistant) classes to help deepen your understanding of your clients and their needs. You could even take an Art class at the local college to help you wind down and meet new friends.
  4. Seek social support – Having a strong support system can make a high stress job feel a lot more manageable. Make an effort to be emotionally connected with family and friends. Set aside time each week to recharge your batteries. Whether it be one-on-one interaction or going to a party, by getting out of the house you’ll feel much happier and more relaxed.
  5. Set personal goals – These can be as simple as going for a 30-minute run three times a week, going to bed early, or calling your mom once a week. Finding little goals you can achieve will make the week go by quicker and give you a greater sense of accomplishment.
  6. See a doctor – If you’re feeling depressed and know you’re not acting like yourself, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. Discussing your situation openly with someone who doesn’t know you can be very therapeutic and provide perspective.

Even though you may feel like you don’t have time to focus on yourself, with a little tweaking of your schedule you will be surprised how easy it is to find at least one day a week where you can do something as simple as take a bubble bath. Even if it means sacrificing something else that day, it will be well worth it.

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