Being a caregiver is a tough job. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that it’s not always all about the other person—sometimes you need to take some time to rejuvenate your own body, mind and soul. In fact, caregiver wellness is crucial for you and the person you’re caring for.
So if you are beginning to feel stuck—or are even having fantasies of escape—it’s probably time to care for yourself. This “restless caregivers syndrome” is perfectly normal. Mothers of young children get it and caretakers of the elderly and their loved ones get it. So don’t give yourself a guilt trip or think that there’s no end to life’s duties and intense responsibilities. Instead consider these helpful caregiver tips to help you find joy in life and address your own wants and needs.
- Be present in your own life. Schedule that cooking class, massage, shopping date with friends — or anything that can enhance the daily doldrums that are so easy to slip in to when you’re a caregiver. Getting the endorphins going through exercise or taking that much-needed vacation, as well as, letting your imagination be immersed in a good book, are also excellent ways to enjoy the many things life has to offer.
- Let yourself daydream. What do you want out of life? Brainstorm some fun goals you may have for yourself, whether it’s changing careers, learning a new language or creating a family blog. Maybe you just want to take a Photoshop class or learn how to use Excel more effectively. These goals can help you remember your own life and how to integrate activities for yourself around your caregiving. Remember that mental stimulation and achieving goals is needed to feel like your life is worthwhile for yourself!
- Create a support system. Needing to vent is perfectly healthy. In fact, it’s better to vent than let frustrations build up and fester (which isn’t healthy for you or those around you). So whether you have a friend or family member you like to talk to, make sure you have some time for a healthy vent each week. But also make sure these people can offer a healthy perspective to make sure you don’t spiral in an unhealthy direction. Having a specific amount of time to vent—15 minutes or so—is a good idea. That way your friend or loved one can vet your complaints. And having a professional counselor is an excellent option to offer perspective and sanity to your frustrations.
- Give yourself a break! You need time off, not only to achieve some of your goals, but also to get your mind off caregiving. If you have siblings, take turns, if possible. If needed, look into elder companions, respite programs or part-time nursing care.
Above photo, courtesy of Philippe Leroyer on Flickr.