Family Caregiver Self-Care Ideas

Being a family caregiver is rewarding, certainly. But no matter if you are caring for a loved one who lives 10 minutes away or 10 hours away, caregiving can also be quite exhausting and challenging. Family caregivers are prone to caregiver burnout, sometimes called caregiver fatigue, a term used to define a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion that can lead to poor physical and mental health outcomes.

If you’re dropping by your loved one’s home to cook them lunch or help them in the bath, you’re at risk for caregiver burnout. If you’re scheduling transportation and doctor appointments from thousands of miles away, you’re at risk for caregiver burnout. All family caregivers are at risk for burnout, which can lead to depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, social withdrawal, and physical illness.

There is good news, though. It’s never too early – or too late – to begin to take steps to prevent caregiver burnout. The easiest way to keep symptoms at bay? Intentionally scheduling time for yourself and putting self-care activities into your calendar so that you don’t skip or postpone them.

Here are a few ideas to inspire you as you make your self-care appointments for the rest of the summer.

Hit the Pool

Keep the kids at home and instead grab your favorite book, earbuds, sunscreen, and a beach towel to head to your favorite local pool. Set up in a quiet corner and enjoy the sunshine while you read and dip in the waters during an adult swim. You might even find that you close your eyes and take a quick nap in the beach chair. You deserve it!

Head Into Nature

Forest bathing, or spending time around trees, has been shown to decrease anxiety and depression. Find your way out to nature to experience some of this natural stress relief. Try a new trail (don’t forget to download a trail map to your phone before you head out), or meet up with a friend at an old favorite. Remember to bring along water and sunscreen!

Be a Tourist

When was the last time you explored somewhere new in your city? Take on the role of tourist by checking out the new art museum exhibit, testing out a new restaurant, or catching a concert. Exploring a new place, even if it is within the city where you live, can leave us feeling creatively charged.

Schedule Dinner

Withdrawing from friends and social circles is common in family caregivers. Buck this trend and instead lean into your friendships. Set up a dinner for your favorites at a new restaurant or ask everyone to bring a dish to share and meet up at a park for a picnic. These social connections are crucial to your mental health.

Take a Nap

Rest is never a punishment, and sometimes you just need to ditch the guilt around taking an afternoon nap. Schedule time in your calendar to lie down on the couch for a few hours each week, without the shame. You need your rest, no matter how or when you can get it.

Get Artsy

Creative expression can be good for your mental health, and you don’t have to be a natural artist to practice it. Grab a journal and commit to writing for 15 minutes each day, or purchase a sketch pad and colored pencils and head out to your garden weekly. Crochet, paint, write a song. Try a little of everything until you find a creative outlet that makes you feel relaxed, recharged, and empowered.

Ask for Help

Perhaps the most difficult task for family caregivers is to ask for help. However, you cannot bear this role alone. You might need to ask a neighbor to sit with your mom on Tuesday afternoons so that you can go to yoga class or have your sister take over physician appointments and transportation scheduling. You deserve help and the free time that comes with it.

The team at CaringGivers is here to provide that help, giving family caregivers respite when they need it, right in the home of the senior. Learn more about our services and contact us to schedule your free consultation.

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