Taking care of yourself is an essential part of caring for someone with special needs. Here are some ways to relax and meditate each day. They can help you focus on your own care and ensure that you have the energy and patience to take care of your loved one. Some Ideas to Consider Include Yoga, Deep Breathing Exercises, Guided Visualizations, Hot Baths, or Listening to Calming Music. Set Aside Some Time Each Day to Practice Meditation, Even If It's Just for a Few Minutes – It Will Help Recharge Your Batteries. Life Can Be Demanding and Exhausting so It's Essential to Take Care of Yourself.
Eating nutritious meals and exercising regularly are important for maintaining physical health. To help you recharge yourself emotionally, try finding ways to express yourself - journaling or talking to a friend can be great outlets! Organizations such as "Family Aware" suggest taking time for yourself each day, like spending some alone time, doing something creative, or engaging in an activity that brings joy. Taking mini breaks from caregiving throughout the day can also make a big difference- even just going for a walk or having a cup of tea can give you the much-needed break you need.
You can find out more about "Family Aware" here.
The dangers of caregiver burnout
It is vital for you to make self-care a priority. When you don’t take the time to nourish your own physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being, you run the risk of experiencing caregiver burnout — a state of being completely overwhelmed by the stress and fatigue associated with caring for your loved one.
Caregiver burnout can lead to many negative outcomes like:
Mental health issues including anxiety, depression, or chronic stress
Physical health problems like fatigue, sleep issues, or drastic changes in appetite
Changes in mood with increased irritability, apathy, or anger toward the person you’re caring for
Engaging in unhealthy or harmful lifestyle choices (like smoking or excessive drinking) to cope with stress
Losing your enjoyment of life
Ways to Self Care
Set boundaries (e.g., do not work during time off, or allow others to assist you with caregiving when needed)
Move your bedtime earlier – try to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night
Take a short nap if you’re feeling tired in the middle of the day
Take a break from your phone or TV 30 minutes before you go to bed to allow yourself (and your brain) time to wind down
Write down 3 things you are thankful for each day
Set a timer and do a midday check-in with yourself: How do I feel? What do I need?
Close your eyes and imagine a relaxing place that brings you peace.
Give yourself credit with self-affirmation: name something positive about yourself or something you have done that gave you a sense of accomplishment or satisfaction.
Learn something new
Trying out new hobbies or activities will help you feel more accomplished and keep your mind active. Here are some new things to try:
Cook or bake a new recipe.
Join a free online educational class.
Watch a do-it-yourself or home hacks video, then test it for yourself.
Tap into a new hobby and create space (physical and mental!) to work on it.
Remember, it’s okay to find time for fun
Caregivers are often dealing with heavy life situations, but we all need to laugh and play (even as adults!) as part of maintaining our well-being. Start exploring what brings you joy or makes you smile and dedicate some time to it today!
Measuring caregiver stress and burnout
The Zarit Burden Interview is the most widely used diagnostic tool for identifying caregiver burden.
To determine whether you are experiencing excessive caregiver stress, consider taking this Caregiver Health Self Assessment Questionnaire that was developed by the American Medical Association.
CCD75 Outreach Committee- Chair