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Taking A Time Out: Self Care For Caregivers

Posted on March 29, 2016 at 5:24 PM Comments comments (81)
Taking care of a sick loved one is one of the most difficult challenges one can face in their lives.
Often times coming unexpectedly, care givers must learn how to adjust quickly to a new way of
thinking and living. Though often thought of as an honorable task, care givers often find
themselves stretched beyond their limits putting a crippling stress on not only them but their
personal relationships. How do care givers cope with such a task?

“I’ve started to workout in the mornings before mom wakes up.” When Toni’s mother suffered a
series of strokes last Spring, she, along with her husband has handled caring for her mother full time.
“It was a struggle at first waking up earlier but I needed this time alone to get back to
myself”. Exercising even 2 to 3 times a week has many mental and physical benefits for care
givers. Along with an overall improvement of health, working out is a great way to relieve stress.
There is no need to join your nearest gym, just taking a short walk every morning can help you
relax, improve your mental state and the way you cope with stress that may arrive in the
day.

Another way to cope with stress especially on the go is deep breathing. Taking 4 deep breaths,
inhaling slowly though the nose and exhaling slowly through the mouth can help release any
nervous energy or stress. If you feel your body is tense, take taking a deep breath, tightening
your shoulder muscles, hold for 3 to 5 seconds and exhale slowly while releasing your shoulders
to relax. You can do this for all parts of your body, starting from your feet on up for overall
relaxation.

One of the most effective things care givers can do is find a support group. Though family and
friends are a wonderful support system, sometimes having a group of people who know exactly
what you’re going through is more helpful. Many care givers don’t realize there support groups
online and in person providing a safe space to discuss the ups and downs attached to care giving.
Caregiver.org offers links to online and in person support groups in your area. There are also
Facebook groups as well as groups on meetup.com. How ever you decide to cope with becoming
a care giver, it is imperative to create a self care routine. Taking care of your mental, physical,
and emotional state will improve your overall quality of life in the long run.