Caregivers Need Care Too

Self, Family

Tips to aid parents and helping professionals engage in self care

I often meet with individuals who desperately need time for themselves.  Many of these individuals are professionals such as doctors, teachers, or daycare providers.  Others are full time parents or are caring for their own ailing parents.  Some are in a relationship with, or care for someone with mental or physical illness.  While the presentation is diverse, there is a common theme.  A theme of burnout, stress, and intense guilt related to wanting some “me time”.  Friendships, interests, and hobbies are placed on the back burner.  Some cope by over-eating, smoking, or turning to alcohol and drugs.  Many begin to experience a decline in health.  One pearl of wisdom I will always remember from graduate school is this, “You will be better at helping others if you can help yourself”.  It is true.  In order to avoid burnout, resentment, and extreme fatigue which can lead to health problems, caregivers need some “me time”.

Tips for Creating “Me Time”

- Schedule it, just like an appointment:  Your time is your time and you are more likely to use it if you see it in your schedule

- Say “No” to extra obligations

- Unplug:  Calculate how much time you spend on electronics (computer, phone, tv) and set aside 30 minutes for something stress relieving such as yoga, walking, gardening, reading, or taking a bath

- Buy Time:  Take the children to hourly daycare a couple times a week for socialization and play while you take time for yourself.  Hire an in-home caregiver for a couple of hours.  Ask another family member or neighbor for help.

- Create personal space in your home that is just for you.  Even if you can only spare 5 minutes to deep breathe, that’s 5 minutes you didn’t have before.

- Talk to someone.  A friend, a relative, or a professional.  Having someone take time to listen can be very therapeutic.

- Engage in a hobby