Sooner or later, most caregivers learn they can no longer “do it all” and still find time for themselves, much less their families. A big part of self-care isn’t always about doing something for yourself, but also by saying no to things that drain you.
Make this commitment to yourself: Your “me” time is essential and non-negotiable. Organize your duties as a caregiver and make time to take care of your own needs. Schedule your “me” time. Go to Office Depot, Office Max or Staples and buy a weekly or monthly pocket calendar (I prefer the weekly version) or download a calendar app for your smart phone.
Write down all of your loved one’s appointments and essential caregiving activities, e.g., meals, bathing, etc. Next, add your own appointments and other absolutely essential family obligations. Then, make appointments with yourself.
Set aside specific times and days of the week for your “me” time during which you do nothing for anyone else. Try to find at least an hour every day just for you. You don’t have to do it all at once; break it down into convenient 10 minute intervals if that works better for you. But, whatever you choose to do with your “me” time, make it relaxing and restorative.
If you’re “on duty” 24/7 with the person you’re caring for and your family, you may need to find help to give you the break you need from your routine. Check out our article, Where can I find help? for perhaps an hour or two, an afternoon, a weekend, etc.
Here are some suggestions for your “me” time:
- Read a book, a magazine or the newspaper
- Buy some adult coloring books
- Go for a long leisurely walk with a friend
- Grab a cup of coffee, sit on the porch and do nothing
- Listen to your favorite music
- Bake some cookies
- Make more slow cooker meals
- Create a photo album from your smart phone photos
- If the person you’re caring for takes a nap, try to do the same
- Buy some flowers
- Go on a Saturday night date with your spouse
- Work on a crossword puzzle
- Collect your recipes
- Talk to other caregivers
- Go shopping — just for you
- Work in your garden, even if it’s just a window or patio garden
- Play with your pet
- Join an online support group
- Exercise — Yoga, Tai Chi, etc.
- Pursue your hobbies
- Take an evening off and go to a school event with your children
- Call a friend to chat
- Take a vacation with your family
- Watch a movie
- Make a lunch date with a friend
- Soak in the tub
- Invite a friend over for coffee
- Above all, don’t feel guilty about taking time off for yourself
Why should I do it?
If you don’t take care of yourself, you will weaken your immune system or develop a serious medical condition. Then, who will take care of your loved one and your family?