How to Care for Yourself as You Care for Your Loved One


This article was provided by Harry Cline of

As a new caregiver, you're probably already discovering how quickly the stress of caring for your loved one can wear you down. No matter how dedicated you are and how much your loved one needs you, you must care for yourself so you don't end up burned out and sick. The following suggestions can help you strike a critical balance between caring for your loved one and caring for you, presented by Happilee Ever After.

Reducing Stress

As a caregiver, you need to find ways to keep the inevitable stress of caring for your loved one under control. Your first step is to recognize and acknowledge your stress. Caregivers often feel rather guilty that their loved ones are causing them stress, but stress is normal. Look for warning signs that you're feeling stressed and try to pinpoint the causes.

Once you've identified your stress, you can teach yourself to cope with it. Make changes in especially stressful areas if possible, and be sure you get enough sleep. If you aren't properly rested, stress will quickly pile up and threaten to overwhelm you.

Another way to fight stress is by developing an exercise plan. Even a few minutes of cardio and weight training each day will help you feel more energetic. You can also try a new hobby, spend extra time in prayer or meditation, or simply set aside a little time for solitude.

Staying Social

As a caregiver, you spend a great deal of time with your loved one, but you must also try to stay social. Even a phone conversation or an afternoon of shopping can provide a much-needed break. If possible, you might join a social group like a book club or craft class or even a coffee and conversation circle. Getting out for an afternoon or two a week or for an evening here and there can greatly improve your outlook and lower your stress.

Setting Limits

You naturally want to do everything you can for your loved one, but you must learn to set limits. Your loved one likely makes significant demands on you—usually unintentionally, of course—so you need to learn how to say no to tasks you can't do.

Getting Help

Finally, you must be open to getting help when you need it. Ask a friend or relative to stay with your loved one for a while so you can get out or accomplish tasks without interruption. Consider bringing your loved one to an adult day program or a respite care facility for an afternoon or two each week to allow you to have some free time, or look into hiring an in-home care aide part-time.

Further, if you have trouble completing household chores, you might hire professionals to take care of some for you. A lawn fertilization service, for instance, can help maintain your lawn. Just be sure to search for “fertilizer companies near me,” read reviews, and get quotes before you hire. If money is an issue, see which companies offer credits or discounts.

Treating Yourself

Always remember that you'll give your loved one better care if you care for yourself. Visit Happilee Ever After for more self-care tips.

This article was provided by Harry Cline of 

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Harry Cline is creator of and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.