9 Tips for Caregivers to Take Care of Their Own Health

If your loved one is aging or becomes sick, you might find your­self in a new role and new respon­si­bil­i­ties. Being a care­giv­er for a par­ent or spouse who is get­ting old­er, or for any­one who is sick, can be over­whelm­ing at times. 

Care­giv­ing by the Numbers

As a care­giv­er, you may find your­self putting all of your time and ener­gy into car­ing for some­one else — and for­get­ting to take care of your own health at the same time.

Here are 9 tips to help you pri­or­i­tize your own phys­i­cal, men­tal, and emo­tion­al health. 

Man­ag­ing Stress and Your Men­tal Health

1. Take Time for Yourself

Many care­givers expe­ri­ence stress or care­giv­er fatigue as a result of their role. It’s impor­tant to find ways to relieve stress for your men­tal and phys­i­cal health. When you find your­self feel­ing over­whelmed, take five min­utes to breathe or walk, and set aside time every day to do some­thing just for you. Even some­thing as small as read­ing a book or doing a cross­word can help you slow down and focus on yourself.

2. Speak Kind­ly to Yourself

You may find your­self talk­ing to your­self through­out the day. When care­giv­ing gets chal­leng­ing, you might inter­nal­ly be say­ing things like, I can’t do it,” or I should be doing more.” How you talk to your­self can have a big impact on your self-esteem and your atti­tude. Through­out the day, try shift­ing to more pos­i­tive lan­guage like, I can do this,” or I’m doing the best I can — and my best is good enough.”

3. Seek Pro­fes­sion­al Help When Needed 

Care­giv­ing can be chal­leng­ing. In fact, 66% of adults pro­vid­ing care for an old­er loved one report­ed neg­a­tive men­tal or behav­ioral health symp­toms. Some­times just tak­ing time for your­self or doing dai­ly stress man­age­ment isn’t enough to make you feel bet­ter — and that’s okay. Our Duly Behav­ioral and Men­tal Health care team and pri­ma­ry care providers can pro­vide the sup­port and resources you need to nav­i­gate your emo­tions and care­giv­ing journey.

Pri­or­i­tize Your Phys­i­cal Health

4. Attend Your Annu­al Well­ness Visit

Twen­ty per­cent of care­givers report not attend­ing their annu­al well­ness vis­it. While it might just seem like one appoint­ment you’re miss­ing, your annu­al well­ness vis­it plays a key role in you and your provider mon­i­tor­ing your health. Dur­ing your vis­it, your provider will check in with you about your lifestyle and do nec­es­sary tests for health con­di­tions includ­ing dia­betes, high blood pres­sure, or can­cer. By sched­ul­ing a well­ness vis­it each year, both you and your provider can keep a bet­ter record of any health changes or poten­tial concerns.

5. Stretch and Get Moving 

Care­giv­ing can be hard on your body and phys­i­cal health. You may find your­self using dif­fer­ent mus­cles than you usu­al­ly use and feel­ing sore or strained. Exer­cis­ing and stretch­ing each day — even for just a few min­utes — can help you pro­tect your body, relieve stress, and stay healthy. 

6. Get Some Sleep

Get­ting enough sleep each night is a cru­cial part of main­tain­ing your health. When you get enough sleep, you can reduce your risk for sick­ness, heart dis­ease, dia­betes, injury, and oth­er health prob­lems. Despite this, almost 37% of care­givers report get­ting less than 7 hours of sleep each night. Some ways you can get a bet­ter night’s rest include estab­lish­ing a bed­time and morn­ing rou­tine, cre­at­ing a relax­ing sleep envi­ron­ment, lim­it­ing screen time before bed, and exer­cis­ing dur­ing the day.

Don’t Iso­late Your­self — Ask for Help

7. Think About What Skills or Inter­ests Your Friends Have

It can be dif­fi­cult to think of what kind of help you can ask for from friends or fam­i­ly. Take some time on your own to think of your loved ones’ skills or inter­ests. If you have a friend who likes to cook, ask if they can make you a meal. Or if your sis­ter loves to work out, ask her to go on a walk with you once a week. Be spe­cif­ic, and don’t feel bad for need­ing — or want­i­ng — help.

8. Join a Care­giv­er Sup­port Group

Care­giv­ing can be a lone­ly jour­ney, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many local sup­port groups that can give you a place to con­nect with oth­er peo­ple going through sim­i­lar expe­ri­ences as you are. 

9. Remem­ber — It’s Okay to Ask for Help

There are many rea­sons you may not want to ask for help from friends, fam­i­ly, or a pro­fes­sion­al care­giv­er. You may feel guilty you can’t do it all your­self or wor­ried about the lev­el of care your loved one will receive. Reflect on your feel­ings about ask­ing for help, and remind your­self that it’s okay to need help — and to ask for it.

The Duly Health And Care team can sup­port you through­out your care­giv­ing jour­ney. Sched­ule a vis­it with your pri­ma­ry care provider or a behav­ioral and men­tal health spe­cial­ist today.