Whether you are caring for your parents, your kids, your spouse, or your patients – you are a caregiver. Caring for someone else is a huge responsibility and can be extremely stressful. This is especially true when you feel like you can barely care for yourself. Taking care of others requires you to care for yourself too, so here are a few tips for “staying sane” when you’re a caregiver.
Caring for your parents can be extremely stressful and overwhelming, and that is why you need to figure out how to keep your stress levels as low as possible. Whether it’s meditation, exercise, squishing a stress ball, or simply catching up on sleep – find something that calms you. Everyone will have a different preference on what helps them relieve stress, but try to do something that won’t take away too much time from your parents (depending on the level of care they need).
Time management is a skill that you develop with practice and can be used in almost every aspect of your life. Whether it’s at home or at work, this is one skill that will always greatly benefit your lifestyle. Keep a calendar/planner/schedule that keeps track of your life and your parent’s lives to help you maintain balance with ease. Keep your belongings organized and separate from your parents so you always know what you have and what you need.
Have a Backup Plan
Sometimes unexpected things occur that are out of your control, but I recommend that you think about these possible occurrences and plan for them. You might become ill yourself, your child may fall and get hurt, or you may face an unexpected expense. Think about a few possibilities that could happen to you, think of ways to prevent those things, and have a backup plan for if/when they do happen. Write these down and put them in a safe place so you can reference back and solve potential problems easily.
Keep your own hobby
Everyone needs their own “me” time, but it’s often left out of our busy schedules. Keeping a hobby or activity for yourself can contribute significantly to your mental health and overall wellbeing. Hobbies can directly correlate with de-stressing techniques to help you stay sane. My personal favourites include adult colouring books and sudoku. It’s important to remember that if you can’t take care of yourself, how can you expect to take care of others? Make yourself a priority and find things you love to do. I also recommend exercise, cooking, puzzles/games, reading, writing, singing, or sewing. The possibilities are endless!
Utilize all available resources
I cannot emphasize enough that you are not alone in this and you should be reaching out to others as much as possible. Caring for someone sometimes takes a team of people, and that’s perfectly normal. Don’t hold the burdens of caregiving by yourself when you have friends, family and professionals available to help you. Look into what your community offers and use professionals to help guide you onto a path that works best for everyone.
Caring for another is not an easy task, but don’t forget about yourself. It’s also not black and white. There is no perfect way to be a caregiver, just do what works best for you. It may be trial and error figuring out how to do it all, but you’ll get there – so keep going!