Today I Learned...
- Self-care may look different for every caregiver
- It is important to take steps to care for myself physically, socially and emotionally
- Following this self-care checklist will improve my well-being
iven the many responsibilities that caregivers assume every single day, it's easy to overlook your own needs and self-care. But when you do this, you're neglecting a key part of your life and well-being. This can lead to serious problems down the road such as depression, anxiety, a weak immune system, obesity, or a higher risk for chronic disease (Source: OASH).
Health problems are less likely to develop when people practice healthy habits in all areas of their lives. Taking steps to practice self-care in areas of physical, social, emotional and caregiving health is vital to preventing these health problems.
The following self-care checklist is designed to help you remember the many ways you should take care of yourself.
Use the self-care checklist as needed, and consider adding specific items that are particularly relevant to your situation.
The importance of physical health as a caregiver is something that can't be stressed enough. It can be hard to find time for yourself, and you may be tempted to skip physical care because you're so focused on your loved one. But it's important that you don't. Follow the checklist below to ensure you're staying physically healthy.
Physical Health Checklist:
- I regularly go to the doctor(s) to maintain my health
- I sleep around 7–9 hours a night
- I eat well-balanced meals, with plenty of fruits and vegetables
- I exercise and move my body for at least 30 minutes most days
One of the best ways to care for yourself while caregiving is by keeping your social health in check. Your social health includes things like your relationships and connections with people. It's important to make sure that you're staying in touch with friends and family as well as doing things that bring you joy.
Social Health Checklist:
- I regularly spend time with friends and family
- I have at least one hobby
- I go out and do something fun at least once a week (gym classes, cooking classes, etc.)
As a caregiver, you are all too familiar with the emotional toll that your responsibilities can take on you. Recognizing your emotional needs and making healthy decisions about how to meet them will help you stay well as a caregiver.
Emotional Health Checklist:
- I receive ongoing emotional support from at least one person for my caregiving situation
- I have at least one way of releasing or coping with stress, such as: an enjoyable activity, journaling my thoughts or feelings, exercising, or meditating
- I understand that typical emotional responses to caregiving include: denial, anxiety frustration, anger, guilt, shame, & grief
- I seek professional help when I cannot handle difficult emotions on my own
As a caregiver, your health is important. It's not just about making sure you're physically and emotionally healthy—it's also about making sure you have the tools to help your loved one stay well.
The responsibility of caring for someone you love can be overwhelming. You need to know that you're doing the best you can, and that there are things you can do to make your life easier as a caregiver.
Caregiving Health Checklist:
- I clearly understand my loved one's diagnosis and prognosis
- I know what the ongoing care needs of my loved one
- I have a plan for how to provide that care
- I have a clear understanding of my loved one's and my own financial situation
- I ask and accept help from others
- I spend time talking with other caregivers on a regular basis
- I have a plan if my loved one's needs change and know where to get help if I need it
Your health matters, too. Even when you are taking care of another person.
This list is by no means comprehensive, so please find what works for you. We encourage caregivers to take the time to care for themselves since this will determine how well they can provide care for their patients. There are many avenues of providing self-care and we encourage caregivers to explore them all.
Finding balance as a caregiver can be quite challenging, but once you get the hang of it, it will only get easier.
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