How to: Take Care of Yourself While Taking Care of Others

As a modern adult, we are consistently seeing our schedules and itineraries fill weeks in advance. Between juggling immediate family, career, and household duties, taking on the role of caregiver can add stress to your jammed packed life while stretching you too thin. Below, Harmony has a few ideas on how you can take care of yourself while taking care of others.


Ask for Help from Family:

You’re not alone in this! Chances are, even if you are the primary caregiver, you are not the only relative who cares about your loved one. Call upon those other people in your loved one’s life to carry even just a small part of your responsibility. Anyone can help with cleaning up, grocery shopping, or calling to check in with a family member. You’re not weak for asking for a little help!


Schedule ‘You’ Time:

You might have discovered that it’s not enough to just think about having a little “me” time. Just like the rest of your life: to get it done you have to put it on the schedule! Whether you would love a day at the spa, a golf outing with friends, or just the ability to sit on the couch alone and catch up on your favorite show, you’ve got to regularly do what refreshes you—you might even find you’re a better caretaker when you do!


Set Boundaries:

For those of us who want to make people happy, it’s so easy to just say yes to doing everything. But you should have a life too! Set your own priorities and practice gracefully saying no to something that doesn’t fall in line with your boundaries. Try to find alternatives to fulfill the need in your loved one’s life. If it’s important for you to be at all of your child’s soccer games, let caregiving work around that—not the other way around.


Talk it Out:

Feelings of fatigue or stress related to caregiving won’t just go away on their own. You’ve got to let these thoughts and feelings out in order to deal with them. Talk about what you’re going through to a spouse or trusted friend and you might find that not only will you feel better about it, but they might have a perspective or helpful solution that you never thought about.


Appreciate Your Efforts:

There are two ways to do this. First, when someone thanks you for helping out with your loved one, don’t downplay your efforts! Say, “Oh, it’s nothing” enough times and you’ll start to believe you’re not doing anything worthwhile when that’s not the truth. Second, every so often take a step back to look at the hard work you’re doing and realize what an impact you’re having in your loved one’s life. You’ll remember why you do what you do, and it’ll give you the strength to continue on.


Use Professionals:

At any point should you feel too overwhelmed—or should your personal or professional circumstances change—there’s no shame in bringing in professionals to take on your previous responsibilities. You can rest and take a little time for yourself knowing that your loved one is being cared for by someone who does this every day as a career. You can still love your family member well, and visit them often, without the responsibility for every detail of their life.



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