When a serious illness strikes a family, everyone’s life is thrown into turmoil. Whether the illness is chronic or acute, no one can really prepare you for the responsibility of caregiving and the emotions that go with it. This is true even if you are not the primary caregiver.
Unfortunately, as we throw ourselves into overdrive, doing everything we can to deliver the best care to our loved one, we typically put our own self-care on the back burner, which ultimately leads to burnout.
If you’re feeling worn out, here are some ways you can care for yourself while caring for or navigating treatment with your loved one:
Give Yourself Space
You’re no doubt overwhelmed and inundated with activities that surround your loved one’s care. It’s important that you take time to get away for some quiet reflection. Take a walk in nature or a long drive to clear your head and catch your breath.
If there were any time in your life you craved comfort foods, now would be it! But loading up on carbs and sugar is not what your body needs. Do your best to forego donuts and pasta and instead opt for fruits and vegetables. Consider meal prep services if the actual preparation of food is too daunting due to other responsibilities.
Connect with Others
It’s easy to become isolated during this time. You’re tired and emotional, and besides the goings-on at various doctors’ appointments, you may feel you have little to offer in the way of sterling conversation.
It’s important that you remain socially active and connect with others. This could mean finding a local support group, or grabbing a latte with friends every Thursday morning. You need to remember who you are as a person, not just a caregiver, and social interactions will help you feel human.
Many family caregivers feel it’s their entire responsibility to provide care for their loved one. But you don’t have to do everything by yourself. Reach out to other family members and friends for help. Look into getting a home health aid who can step in for you so you can have a couple hours off each week. If that isn’t possible ask a friend or other relative for help. And give yourself permission to take a break. You can only pour out for your loved one if you have the strength and energy to do so, which means being sure to replenish yourself.
You may also want to consider seeking the guidance of a family therapist who can help you navigate your emotions and offer tools to help you cope with your new day-to-day reality.
If you’d like to explore therapy options, feel free to reach out to me at 919-891-0525 today for a free, 15-minute consultation. I would be happy to explore how I may be able to help you. Appointments may be scheduled for my Wake Forest counseling office or online.