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Self-Care for the Caregiver

People who provide caregiving for a loved one with a chronic condition are themselves more prone to stress, anxiety, and depression. As you’re caring for someone else, it’s just as important to take good care of yourself. To maintain your wellness, follow these self-care guidelines.

Follow healthy habits.

Eat a balanced diet (check out choosemyplate.gov), and to combat stress, try to get 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity, four to six times a week.

Catch Enough ZZZS.

If you're not getting enough sleep at night, take naps when the person you're caring for does.

Give Yourself a Break

Don't feel guilty about stepping away to recharge. Make a list of people who can step in to give you some relief. When asking for help, be direct, saying something such as, "I'd like to go to a painting class on Wednesday. Can you take care of mom from 6 to 8 p.m.?"

Get Social

Don't isolate yourself, which can ramp up your stress. Make time to get together with friends and relatives.

Avoid Negative Self Talk

Thoughts like, "I don't know how to give someone else a bath," or "I never do anything right" are self-defeating. Instead, focus on how much you are doing and the rewards of taking care of someone you love.

See Your Doctor

Visit your physician for regular checkups. If you believe you're developing a physical or emotional problem, make an appointment right away.

For More Stress Reduction Tips

Find inner calm: Yogic meditation or guided meditation can improve mood in caregivers, researchers say. The stress-reduction program offered at El Camino Hospital has helped thousands of people feel better, sleep better, and cope with stressful situations. Nine sessions; at Los Gatos and Mountain View campuses.

More information on Caregiving

This article first appeared in the Fall 2015 edition of the El Camino Hospital Health Beat magazine.

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