Caregiving is a full time job of giving to the ones we love. Often, there is not much recognition for caregivers and it can be easy to become depleted by the challenges of caregiving. Consider this your friendly reminder to continue to care for yourself in order to keep up your emotional strength for the long run. As a caregiver it is up to you to ensure you have daily self-care practices in place, that you are asking for help from family and friends and that you are seeking out respite care to help bear the burden of your role!
Here are some Caregiver Resource Center OC suggestions for taking care of yourself to stay healthy and happy.
Read the Caregiver Bill of Rights
Do you have a Caregiver Bill of Rights somewhere you can see it every day? Write it out, or print it out and tape it to your bathroom mirror or refrigerator. Read it to yourself before you begin each day. You have the right to take care of yourself!
Learn to Accept and Request Help
It’s so easy to take on the burden of caretaking entirely, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Say “YES” to help when it is offered. And ask for help when you need it. Learn to receive graciously.
Often we find caregivers lack the language to translate all of the inner to-do list items and ask for what they need. When someone asks, “Is there anything I can do to help you?” Your response could be “YES! Thank you! Could you:
Read a book to my loved one
Help us in the garden, mow the lawn, pull weeds
Drive to an appointment
Be available to talk, help me to laugh and gain perspective
Help with a project and keep me company
… and so many more! Check out this resource for a full list of ways you can receive the assistance of well-meaning friends and family https://www.caregiveroc.org/documents/Time-for-Me/Saying-Yes-to-Offers-for-Help.pdf
Know how to Refresh and Renew
Do you have a good idea of activities that will help you feel refreshed and renewed when things are getting hectic? What activities bring you pleasure? A long walk with a friend? Getting a manicure? Ordering takeout and watching your favorite show? Take some time to make a list of 20-30 things that you enjoy engaging in, that allow you to rest, refresh or renew yourself. When you find yourself getting stressed out, refer to your “Refresh and Renew” list. You could post this next to your Bill of Rights as an extra reminder to take care of you!
Find Comfort in Relating to Caregiving Stories
Caregiving can get lonely. Indulge with films that depict caregiving. Some recommended films that feature storylines around caregiving are:
Dad - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097142/
Marvin’s Room - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116999/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0
Proof - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0377107/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_7
A full list of our recommendations can be found here: https://www.caregiveroc.org/documents/Time-for-Me/Movies-for-Caregivers.pdf
There are also many books available on the topic of caregiving.
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant: A Memoir
Caregiving: The Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss, and Renewal
The Magic of Humor in Caregiving
Helping Yourself Help Others: A Book for Caregivers
There are so many wonderful books on caregiving. Here is a complete list of our favorites!
Take Advantage of the Many Resources on YouTube
The best part of caregiving in the 21st century is the unlimited access we have to world-renowned teachers from the comfort of our own homes. Here are a few of our favorites:
Yoga: Take time for yourself to reduce stress and move your weary bones with a very accessible gentle stress-relieving yoga practice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJbRpHZr_d0
Meditation: Practice this Self-compassion Meditation for Caregivers with Dr. Kristin Neff: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJ9wGfwE-YE
Education: Get inspired on your self care journey with this insightful caregiver TED talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7keppA8XRas
Take care of yourself, so that you can thrive in your role as a caregiver!