More than 27 million caregivers provide care for a family member, averaging about 20 hours of care each week. And this trend is only going to increase as baby boomers age.
If you find yourself in a caregiving role, the most important thing you can do is take care of yourself. You owe it to yourself. Without it, you may not have the mental and emotional strength necessary to continue the role indefinitely.
- Don’t worry about perfection. You’re doing the best you can do and that’s good enough.
- Ask for help – even with the littlest of things. Sometimes even a 10 minute break can allow you to spend time on something you enjoy, such as a chapter in a book.
- Pamper yourself regularly. Schedule a manicure or a massage. Enjoy a warm bath in candlelight. Make time for it, and put it into your schedule to make sure you stick to it.
- Incorporate activities that give you pleasure into your day. Listen to music, spend a few minutes in the garden, or go for a walk. In many cases you can combine something you enjoy into your caregiving.
- Watch a comedy video, or read a lighthearted book. Sometimes laughter is the best medicine, and this can often lighten your mood.
- Join a support group, or take a class. Just getting out and talking with peers can lighten your mood. One group may be all you have time for, but work in different types of support. Maybe an oil painting class is just what you need to give you time away from caregiving, and give you a newfound skill.