It’s not uncommon for caregivers to neglect their own self-care needs, as they focus on providing the best care possible for their loved one. However, it’s critically important for you to take care of yourself, especially as you face the added challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are some self-care tips for reducing stress and staying healthy:
Attend to your own basic needs
It can be easy to forgo taking care of yourself, even in the most essential ways, when you’re focused on caring for someone else. Check-in with yourself daily to ensure your basic needs are met, including:
- Taking a few minutes to brush your teeth, change into fresh clothes or shower
- Sitting down and eating at least one square meal a day
- Drinking water throughout the day to stay hydrated
Incorporating some light exercise into your day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Consider stretching, dancing, gardening, or if it is safe for you and your loved one to do so, taking a stroll around the block.
Continue to engage in hobbies or activities you enjoy
Finding a few moments to do something you enjoy can bring a sense of normalcy to your day and give you something to focus on that isn’t related directly to caregiving or COVID-19. Activities may include reading, knitting, puzzles, crafting or anything that is creative, engaging or relaxing.
Be mindful of your news consumption
You may find yourself spending a lot of time watching, reading or listening to news stories, including those on social media. While it’s important to stay informed and connected, this can quickly become overwhelming. Some tips to help:
- Set a time limit. Use a kitchen timer or set an alarm to alert you when time is up!
- Set designated times throughout the day to check the news or social media. Do your best to resist checking for updates in between those times.
- Don’t leave the television on a news station all day. Find a movie or show you enjoy, or perhaps turn on some of your favorite music instead.
- Instead of checking social media, connect with friends and family by phone or video chat. Talk to someone who makes you laugh or smile!
Use relaxation techniques to reduce stress
Relaxation techniques relieve stress and are easy to do in the comfort and safety of your own home. Try one or more of these ideas to find one that works well for you:
- Visualization: Mentally picturing a place or situation that brings a sense of peace and calm, like the beach, a forest trail or your favorite vacation spot.
- Meditation: This can be as simple as dedicating 15 minutes a day to letting go of all stressful thoughts.
- Breathing exercises: Taking a few minutes to breathe mindfully, slowing your breath or focusing on taking deep breaths.
Learn more about relaxation techniques on the Mayo Clinic website or check out the “Relaxation for Caregivers” series from the Family Caregiver Alliance, which offers short videos to guide you through breathing exercises, meditation and more.
Ask for and accept help
Caregivers are often reluctant to ask for help or accept it when it’s offered — but you can and should, especially at times like these. Ask a family member or friend to pick up groceries, medication or other items you need and drop them at your doorstep. Ask family members, friends or neighbors to check in on you from time-to-time. Lean on others for emotional support by calling a friend, a faith leader, counselor or someone else you trust.
The Alzheimer’s Association is also here to help. Call our 24/7 Helpline (1.800.272.3900) or attend one of our support groups being held over the phone. We are always here when you need us! For a full list of resources to help you cope during this difficult time, please visit: alz.org/covid19resources