The bleeding disorders community is made up of dedicated caregivers. Moms, dads, grandparents, partners, spouses, and friends play a crucial supportive role in their loved one’s well-being. However, caregivers can often feel stressed, overwhelmed and burnt out. Therefore, it is important for caregivers to remember to take time just for them. Caregivers often feel guilty or selfish for paying attention to their own needs. But despite these common feelings, prioritizing a little time for yourself each day can go a long way in managing stress—which will better equip you to take care of yourself and others.
*About 27% of the adult population in the US has provided care for a chronically ill, disabled aged family member or friend in 2013. Based on current census data, that translates into more than 50 million people.
Quick tips and reminders for caregivers to practice self-care:
- Move your body. Take a walk, stretch, run, dance, practice yoga, play a sport. Do whatever you enjoy doing to get your body moving.
- Learn to say ‘no.’ If adding something else to your already busy plate is going to induce more stress, learn that it is okay to say “no.” You’re only one person, you can’t do everything.
- Eat well. Caregivers are often so focused on making sure everyone else is fed and eating nutritiously that they often forget about themselves. Eat a balanced meal and take time to enjoy eating rather than gobbling it down between tasks.
- Prioritize ‘me time.’ Take a little time for yourself each day. Read a book, meditate or engage in a prayer or spiritual practice if that comforts you, write in a journal, or listen to music. Even if you only have 5 minutes per day to spare, do something just for you.
- Forgive yourself. When things don’t go as expected or planned, we often place blame on ourselves. Take a moment to acknowledge these feelings, but then release them. None of are perfect.
- Remind yourself of the positive. Take some time each day to remember the positives in your life, such as family, friends, or whatever else makes you feel happy. Keep this in mind.
- Ask for help. Talk to trusted family members and friends when you need help or just need someone to listen. Do not feel shameful if you think you might need to talk with a professional like a psychologist or social worker. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as going to the doctor for a physical check-up.