If you’ve flown on an airplane, you know the drill with the oxygen masks: If you’re with someone who can’t put on their oxygen mask, you put on your mask first.

Being a caregiver without adequately caring for yourself is unsustainable. Eventually, you run out of gas, and then you aren’t much help at all.

Self-care can be hard to do. Caregivers often don’t want to put their needs first. They might have trouble asking for what they want and need, even if it’s just an afternoon off or an extra hour of sleep.

If that could be you…

  • Do you feel guilty and/or worry about not being a “perfect” caregiver?
  • Do you feel like you have to do everything yourself—and often feel overwhelmed as a result?
  • Do you feel ashamed and/or selfish about asking for things that you need?
  • Do you resent all the things you’re doing… and then feel bad about that?
  • Do you cut corners when it comes to your own health—perhaps neglecting good nutrition, regular activity, and adequate rest? or relying on things like caffeine, stimulants, and other medications?

Self-care helps you be a better caregiver.

  • If you don’t take care of yourself, how can you help others?
  • What good will you be to the people you care for if you get sick or burned out?

Self-care strategies

One way to reframe and prevent burnout: Think of daily healthy practices as your “anchors” that let you weather the storms, rather than as “extras” or self-indulgent frills. (Maybe that Daily Wellness membership is calling your name).

More tips on healthy self-care practices:

  • Reach out to others. Don’t suffer alone. Caregiving can be isolating.
  • Get help. Even assistance with a few little things can make a big difference.
  • If possible, look at how work is allocated in your household, and try to re-organize it a little. Are you trying to do everything yourself, even if you don’t need to? Can other household members take on a task or two?
  • Don’t try to be “perfect” — “good enough” will often do fine. Take one extra job off your plate. Say “no” where appropriate.
  • Planning and preparation help a lot. For instance, the Sunday Ritual of meal prep can make the rest of the week a lot easier to manage.
  • Use your active recovery and days off as an opportunity to treat yourself to a little something extra. Why not a one-on-one stretch with us at Club Recover?  Exercise is a great stress reliever and re-energizer. Even if you can’t do a full workout, try getting out for a quick walk, or coming in for a relaxing stretch with us.