3 Tips for Caregiver Self-Care
, by Alvina Acquaye, NCI-CONNECT Health and Wellness Counselor
Being a caregiver to a patient with a brain or spine tumor is an important and challenging role. Caregivers are so often focused on the medical, physical, and emotional needs of their loved one that they forget to care for themselves. But, caregivers, your health and wellness are important too.
It’s time to make caregiver self-care a priority. Doing so can help you as a caregiver manage your needs in a healthy way to avoid stress, burnout, sickness, and fatigue. It will also ensure you find a good balance between caring for your loved one and yourself.
Here are our self-care tips for caregivers of patients with a brain or spine tumor. We encourage you to follow these tips to stay healthy.
- Schedule self-care time: Each day or week, make time to focus on your needs. Make it a priority by scheduling a recurring one-hour appointment with yourself. Your self-care time should include an activity you enjoy or event that provides comfort. Exercise, go shopping, meditate, have coffee with a friend, or take a nap. The scheduled time will rejuvenate you and help you make your physical and mental health a priority. Your loved one needs you healthy, too.
- For any activities that you incorporate into a consistent routine, make sure you stay in the moment and enjoy yourself. You can think about anything you need to get done after you have taken this time for you.
- Write down your positive qualities: Show yourself self-love by writing down the qualities that make you a great caregiver and person. This can help build your self-esteem and help you stay motivated. Here is an activity to try:
- Write the letters of the alphabet. Find one positive quality about yourself for each letter. Write it next to the letter. Keep this list handy and refer to it when you need a mental boost.
- Make a self-care emergency plan: Having a plan can help you when you feel overwhelmed. In these moments, it can be difficult to think of things to do for yourself. The plan keeps you ready with a list of things you can do to stay calm and in control of how you feel. You can also include things to avoid that might make you feel worse. Keep this plan in a place where you see it consistently. Your plan should include:
- A list of activities that help you relax. For example, take a 30-minute walk or meditate for 10 minutes. Include activities that boost your mood and tips to remind you to stay calm and in the moment. And remember to breathe.
- A list of people to reach out to for help or support, such as a friend or loved one who can provide comfort or distraction, or groups to attend to meet other caregivers.
- Positive messages to say to yourself to keep you motivated.
Caregivers: remember, your health and wellness are as important as your loved one. And your loved one wants and needs you healthy, too. So, we encourage you to take care of yourself today and every day