Outcomes, Inc.

Mom needs to get to the doctor. The homecare worker called out sick and you can’t take the day off from work. Dad’s meds need to be picked up. Someone needs to stay with him overnight because he’s been falling. With worries like these, it can feel like self-care is the last thing you have time to think about. So why is self-care important for caregivers to prioritize?

We’ve all heard that stress is bad for us. Caregivers have an increased burden of stress. Unrelieved stress can cause physical problems such as skin rashes, insomnia, aches & pains, and decreased ability to concentrate. It can interfere with digestion, information processing, proper functioning of the immune system, and heart rhythm. It’s no wonder we feel run down and tired when we’re providing care to someone in addition to trying to live our own lives.

Stress can also damage our relationships. When we are overloaded, we don’t listen to others as well, we become more easily frustrated, and we can get irritable and/or depressed. Couple these effects with feeling physically unwell and it’s easy to see how you could quickly start to feel miserable!

So, where do you start? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Be willing to ask for help, and make your requests specific. People are more likely to follow through with assistance if they know exactly what you need.
  2. Get respite. Enlist others to do the caregiving, even if for only an hour or two, so that you can relax. Find a way to hire help if no one can volunteer. You need the breaks for your continued well-being.
  3. Discover what feeds your soul. Do you like nature walks? Gardening? Visiting the zoo? Having coffee with friends? Identify what restores your energy and then schedule times to do that.

With a little planning, you can attend to your needs so that you can keep attending to others. Aren’t you and they worth it??

For more information, visit these links:

The National Alliance for Caregiving

The New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition

The National Caregivers Library

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