Sometimes, caring for others comes as easy as breathing. Other times, it’s a task that’s thrust upon you, and while it’s unfamiliar, you seek to do your best.

Regardless of why, I don’t think I’m being controversial when I say that caregiving, whether full-time or not, is not the easiest of things to deal with. Upwards of one in three adults end up caring for another family member in some informal capacity during their lives, and it’s something that can cause significant emotional and physical stress. This stress, if left unchecked, can lead to multiple health complications, ranging from increased risk of chronic illness to depression.

Mitigating this stress with self-care is extremely important – not just for you, but for your loved ones, too.

Here are a few ways that you can give yourself the care you need:

Take time away for yourself

Depending on your individual situation, the extent of how you’re able to do this will vary.

If you have family members who live close by and are okay with helping, have them step in for a day while you go out with friends or even just spend some time by yourself in one of your favorite spots.

If you have to stay close by, you may just put the blood pressure monitor aside for a while, quit fretting over that lift chair that isn’t quite working right, and just sit back and meditate or listen to music for an hour or so.

Every situation is different, but the principle still remains: find some time where you can be yourself for a while, instead of your role.

Don’t overextend your body

Taking some time to yourself every now and then is good, and it’s especially helpful with alleviating the stress of everyday life, but it isn’t going to fix everything. You have to make sure to take care of your body, too, and not push yourself too hard.

Obviously, the extent of this differs from person to person, and every situation is different.

Still, even if you can’t avoid doing strenuous physical activity (such as, moving your loved one from place to place, helping them with physical tasks, etc), you can take some time to give your body the proper care to help it heal.

If you did a lot of heavy lifting, put some cold packs on your body, or try some heat therapy on your muscles. Paraffin therapy works, too. Don’t do too much at once if you don’t have to – space out your physical tasks to give some time for your body to recover between sessions.

Eat and sleep properly

This will differ depending on the situation, but if you can, try to aim for healthy eating habits and having a good eight hours of sleep every night.

Make sure your bed is comfortable, your pillows nice and supportive, and your rest plenty. With your food, try to keep your meals balanced. If you get overwhelmed with making separate meals for both yourself and your loved one, try prepping for your own meals early in the morning, so you only need to throw everything together or heat it up when it’s time to eat.

Above all: be kind to yourself

Whether this is following the above advice, following your own strategies for keeping the stress away, or whatever it may be, know that you are important. You are more than your role, and your well-being is an extremely important thing to be conscious of.

Pamper yourself, if you’re able.

Go out and socialize, if you can.

Practice mindfulness, if you have the time.

Caring for yourself is just as important as looking after your loved one – and as you start doing it and implement strategies to combat the stress of your daily life, things will get a little easier. Maybe not perfect, but definitely easier.



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