If You’re A Caregiver, Here’s How To Practice Good Self-Care

During COVID-19, a lot of family members were pushed into caregiving duties for the first time and, simultaneously, many existing caregivers had to modify how they carry out their caregiving roles.

It’s a big responsibility and comes with a lot of stress — caregivers can easily become overwhelmed and experience caregiver burnout. It’s imperative that they balance their own life with caregiving for their own health and well-being. 

The definition of a caregiver is “A person who gives direct care to people who need help taking care of themselves.” They give care to children, the elderly, or patients who have chronic illnesses or are disabled. Caregivers can be paid health professionals, family members, friends, social workers, or members of the clergy. 

They are a necessity for those in need of assistance and are tasked with always doing for others, which may lead to caregivers not caring for themselves. 

In order to do their jobs, they need to practice self-care. They need to be both physically and mentally healthy and able to function so they can lead the happy lives they strive to give their patients or loved ones. 

Tips For Caregivers

The American Heart Association recommends 10 steps to ensure you find the time and resources to take care of yourself and avoid caregiver burnout:

  1. Get regular physical activity. Regular, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity — even in small increments — can boost your energy level. Exercise reduces stress, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and can help you keep your blood pressure and cholesterol at healthy levels. Walking is a great way to get started, even if you only walk around the yard.

  2. Maintain a heart-healthy diet. A healthy diet will give you more energy. Eating well can help prevent other health problems, too. If you have to “eat on the run,” try to choose nutritious snacks.

  3. Make time for yourself. Take time every day for an activity you enjoy, such as reading, walking, crafts, cooking, or listening to music. Whatever makes you happy and relaxes you can be therapeutic.

  4. Keep humor in your life. It’s true — laughter is good medicine. Try to find humor in your life every day. Watch a silly TV program or go to a movie that tickles your funny bone. Find things to laugh about with the loved one in your care — that person needs joy, too.

  5. Get out and about. At least once a week, break out of your routine and go somewhere enjoyable. Visit the local coffee shop, attend religious events, take a class, visit a friend, or just wander around the mall. If your loved one needs constant attention, ask for help. It’s likely that someone will be happy to give up an hour or two a week so that you can get out for a breath of fresh air.

  6. Watch out for depression. The demands placed on you as a caregiver can be difficult and stressful. If you are experiencing signs of depression, talk to your health care professional. Often, depression can be managed with talk therapy or medication.

  7. Take care of business. Keep your finances in check, work when you need to and don’t stop planning for the future. If you allow yourself to be totally immersed in your caregiver responsibilities, it can be harder to re-integrate into life later on. Keep living.

  8. Keep medical and dental appointments. Do all you can to maintain your health. If you’re sick, you won’t be able to care for your loved one. Ask for help when you need it so you can get away for your own medical appointments and take care of your health and well-being.

  9. Think positive. Take time every day to refresh your mind. Recognize your limitations and make peace with them. Let go of guilt. Pat yourself on the back for the job you’re doing. If you’re feeling guilty or angry, take a break.

  10. Stay connected with the outside world. Don’t allow yourself to become isolated. Stay connected with family and friends, even if it’s just by phone or online. Talk to friends about something other than your role as a caregiver.


Are you a caregiver who has experienced burnout? Share your experience in the comments.

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