How to Be a Caregiver Without Forgetting to Take Care of Yourself
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You know the saying If the plane is losing oxygen, then put on your own mask first, then your child's? If you're caring for a loved one, then this applies to you, too. But with over half of caregivers reporting that they're eating poorly and not exercising and three-quarters not going to their doctors regularly, it seems that most have abandoned their own oxygen masks. And understandably so: Though taking care of a loved one can certainly be fulfilling, there's no denying that it's emotionally taxing. So what can ease the strain? Recognizing and acknowledging your feelings about the issue—I've listed the three most common emotions below—is the first step. Then, understanding what's behind your emotions can help lessen the stress they cause.
1) You resent the responsibility.
No matter how much you love the person and truly want to take care of them, it's inevitable that you'll feel frustrated—even angry—about how much of your life you're giving up and how hard the task is. Having outlets for "me time," such as talking with friends, will help keep resentment manageable. Set aside 30 minutes each day to do something for yourself—whether it's exercising (which also helps you feel less stressed, since it prompts your body to produce feel-good endorphins), watching a funny TV show, or listening to music. Also, pick a favorite habit or part of your routine from your "before" life to keep in your life now. It can be as small as taking the time to read the paper while you eat breakfast.
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