Are you caring for an aging parent or spouse? Perhaps you are the full-time caregiver of a special-needs child. How do you maintain your equilibrium under the constant demands?

We often hear the words ‘self-care.’ You may be asking, “How can I care for myself when all my time and energy are spent on my loved one?”

Great question!

Here are some practical tips to help you navigate this season of caregiving:

  1. Breathe. When we’re under stress, sometimes we become so tense that we forget to breathe. Our respiration is shallow. When I’m stuck in a stressful situation, like heavy traffic, I remind myself to take deep breaths. Four counts in and four counts out. Repeat until you feel your tension lesson.
  2. Find one thing you can control. Caregiving has no beginning and sometimes no end. It can be a relief to have a task that when you’re done, you’re done. I find it relaxing to clean my kitchen. After I’ve wiped down all the counters, scrubbed the sink, and cleaned the top of the range, there’s a feeling of satisfaction. At least for a short time, until somebody decides to fix themselves lunch.

Other times, I’ll straighten up a corner of the house, tossing old magazines into the recycle bin, scooping up cat toys and putting them back in the basket, and folding the snuggly throw that always ends up wadded on the floor.

  • Ask for help. When I took care of my mom, I was hesitant to reach out for help. Some friends saw my stress and offered to sit with Mom so I could get out of the house for awhile. What a blessing it was! Looking back, I see where I could have avoided burnout by just asking for help.
  • Take a nap. Let’s start a nap revolution! In some other countries, midday naps are the norm. We need that here. When my kids were little, I’d run around like a crazy person during their nap times, getting all the housework done that I couldn’t do with two active toddlers. Now that I’m older, I crave my nap time. When my mom would nap, I’d curl up on her sofa and take a nice, relaxing snooze. It recharged my batteries.

If you have some additional ideas about how to temporarily de-stress from caregiving, I’d love to hear them. I answer every email, unless you’re mean. Then I won’t. :0(

Here’s a link to a recent podcast on #caregiving from Rayna Neises #SeasonofCaring and author of #NoRegrets