Whether caring for a child with special needs, a loved one who is ill, or caring for an elderly family member, being a caregiver is stressful. One study by the American psychological association discovered that 33 percent of caregivers reported mental or behavioral health problems such as anxiety, depression, or substance abuse. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, so Christ encourages caregivers to come to Him. Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” For help, here are some self-care strategies caregivers can utilize.
1. Spend time with God.
It’s easy for a caregiver to try to do everything in their own strength, but this will deplete them. This is why caregivers need to spend time with God daily in prayer, reading the Bible, and meditating on His Word.
2. Get ready each morning.
Having a morning routine can be difficult for caregivers because they’re often so busy helping others that they neglect themselves. Start by waking up 30 minutes earlier. Use this time to grab a cup of coffee or tea, take a shower, and swap pajamas for a nice outfit.
3. Talk about how you feel each day.
Many caregivers neglect their own emotional needs. If this sounds familiar, share your feelings daily. It also helps to meet weekly with a small group, like a Life Recovery Group. Expressing emotions is necessary for becoming emotionally healthy.
4. Stop striving for perfection.
Social media makes caregivers think that caring for others means being perfect, but nothing could be further from the truth. No one is perfect—everyone makes mistakes. So, caregivers must let go of unrealistic expectations for themselves and realize they are doing the best job they can do.
5. Delegate and ask for help.
Caregivers do so much for others that it can be hard to delegate tasks or ask for help when needed. Set self-sufficiency aside and delegate tasks. Ask for help from friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, and even look for volunteers in the community.
6. Create healthy habits and stick to them.
While some self-care is often viewed as a spa day, it’s about building a life one doesn’t need to escape from. Practice habits that lead to a healthy life such as eating healthy foods, exercising, and resting. If this is hard, get an accountability partner.
7. Don’t dismiss your dreams and goals.
It’s common for a caregiver to inspire those they are caring for to dream big and aspire to high goals. But when it comes to their dreams, they often let them go. Caregivers can write their dreams and goals down, then take steps to work toward them. Find a New Life Coach to help.
8. Learn to say no sometimes.
Between juggling work, family, and relationships, it can be challenging for caregivers to set and reinforce boundaries. A good way caregivers can do this is by telling others what they need. Here are some examples:
- “I need to spend time with my family, so I won’t be able to work late.”
- “I am going away with my husband for the weekend, so I can’t volunteer at church.”
- “I need time to rest, so I am taking a day off but will have someone else come to help.”
9. Schedule “me” time every day.
If a caregiver wants to practice self-care, one strategy is to schedule “me” time. It’s necessary to be intentional and schedule “me” time. Try blocking off 30 minutes each day of uninterrupted time doing something for yourself.
10. Don’t feel guilty for spending money on yourself.
There’s nothing wrong with a caregiver getting a new haircut or buying a new outfit—these are necessities, not luxuries. When a caregiver takes care of their needs, they are better able to take care of others’ needs.
If you’re a caregiver experiencing burnout, please know we are here for you! Call us at 800-639-5433. We can pray with you and connect you with a counselor.
By Kimberlee Bousman