11 Ways Caregivers Need to Take Care of Themselves

While it’s wonderful to be a caregiver—to give back to parents or a loved one by helping them as they age or manage an illness, caregiving also can be stressful and frustrating at times. In other words, being a caregiver is no picnic. It’s important to take care of yourself.

Here are 11 ways self-care tips:

Eat healthy foods: Many studies show that eating the right foods— leafy green vegetables, whole grains, berries, and lean protein, can make a positive impact, while indulging in unhealthy foods—sugars, excessive carbohydrates and fried foods, can have a negative impact.

Stay active: Adding moderate exercise (yoga, walking, strength-training) a few times a week is proven to improve physical health as well as emotional well-being.

Meditation: Starting or ending the day with meditation, even just five minutes, can help with the tension of the day or improve sleep.

Vent frustration, guilt, anger, fear or sadness. Whether you talk to a therapist or friend, or others in a support group, negative feelings need to be verbalized.

Stay social. Say yes to events, parties or get-together to combat feeling isolated or depressed.

Appreciate nature. Scientific studies have linked stress reduction to spending time in nature. Take a walk in a forest preserve or park to appreciate the beauty of the scenery.

Ask for help. Most people want to help, so reach out when you need help.

Take breaks several times a day. Caregiving is a job, and a tough one. You need breaks, even if it is running an errand.

Nurture your relationship with your spouse/partner. Don’t forget about the importance of your partner. Let him or her be there for you, and try not to take out your frustration on him or her.

Take care of your own health. The most important aspect of self-care is not skipping your own medical care.

Take time every day to realize the value of the work you are doing. Your loved one appreciates it, whether or not he/she expresses it.

Thank yourself for being a caregiver!

Editor’s Note: Jackie Pilossoph is a Business Development Manager for Home Care Assistance, a premier home care company serving Chicagoland homecareassistancechicago.com. Pilossoph is also the creator of “Love Essentially,” a weekly column in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press, and several other newspapers nationwide.