5 Ways Caregivers Can Take Care of Themselves

Every airplane traveler hears the same refrain whenever they take a flight. In case of an emergency, always put on your own oxygen mask before helping another passenger. It’s the same when you’re a caregiver, caring for a loved one with a debilitating condition. To take care of others, you first need to take care of yourself.

Unfortunately, caregivers often forget their own needs. They’re so busy taking care of their loved one, they don’t eat right, don’t find time to exercise, and suffer from lack of sleep. They simply ignore their own health. This can lead not only physical health issues, but also mental and emotional health concerns, such as depression and anxiety.

Here are some ways caregivers can nurture themselves:

  • Give yourself a break – If you can afford to hire someone to help you take care of your loved one so you can get time to yourself, do it! If that’s not possible, try to find a family member or friend who can help you out.
  • Get emotional support from others – Talk to a friend or friend if you’re suffering from stress or anxiety about your caregiving responsibilities. If needed, find a support group – ask a medical professional or find one online.
  • Take care of yourself physically – Eat healthy foods, walk or do some other form of exercise. Exercise will help manage stress and the “blues.”
  • Don’t forget your own doctor visits to keep up with your own health and wellness needs.
  • Don’t try to everything alone! You may need to delegate tasks to other family members, especially if you work outside the home. Check into services that are offered in your community.

The HelpGuide website provides some great options and food for thought about caregiving in this article.

The Cancer.net website also points out that if stress and anxiety become overwhelming, you should seek professional help. The article, How Caregivers Can Take Care of Themselves, describes symptoms of depression and anxiety and how to manage these conditions.

This article from the Mayo Clinic website, Caregiver Stress: Tips for Taking Care of Yourself, also talks about respite care options.

Elderly woman and younger woman work on a jigsaw puzzle together.  Vertical shot.

How to Use the Internet to Lose Weight

Want to lose 5, 10, or more pounds?

The internet provides some great online tools to help jumpstart your weight loss program, and many of them are free.

To determine calorie intake needed to lose weight or maintain your weight loss:

Calculator.net provides a simple calculator to determine calorie needs. You simply type in your age, gender, height, current weight and choose your activity level. Other links at this site include a body fat calculator and a BMR (basal metabolic rate) calculator.

To keep a food diary: 

My Food Diary offers a 7-day free trial, then costs $9 a month.  This site features a food diary, exercise diary, and a body log to track your progress (weight and measurements). You’ll also find a blog with weight management related categories such as: exercise, lifestyle, nutrition, recipes, etc.

Nutrimirror.com: Free to join. You can keep online logs of food intake and exercise. Downloadable resources include printable food logs, printable nutrition facts and others. Also includes BMI and other calculators. Offers an online tutorial to get you started with the site’s features. Provides personalized reports and statistics to track your progress.

Support groups and weight management programs:

  1. Calorie Count:  Free. Get weight management support from a 5 million member community. Provides calorie counts for foods, phone apps, healthy recipes, a blog that provides tips and success stories. You can also get weight management advice from a team of experts. This site even has a self-directed exercise plan with “how-to” directions for individual exercises.
  2. Weight Loss Buddy: Free. With this site, you find a buddy by filling out a short profile and browsing the buddy results. You can also join a team, ask diet advice from the panel of experts, and your own diet page with plenty of weight loss tools.

These are just a couple of options.  Others include SparkPeople, ExtraPounds, and the oldie but still dependable, Weight Watchers ($)

Blogs for fun and motivation – For Weight Loss and Fitness:

Three Fat Chicks

Roni’s Weigh

Cranky Fitness

Carrots and Cake

Looking for healthy recipes? 

Fruits & Veggies: More Matters

My Recipes

Mayo Clinic Weight Management

How about some healthy snacks?

19 Healthy Snack Ideas

Healthy Snacks from AllRecipes.com