Support & Self Care for Caregivers
As a caregiver, your health and well-being must be a priority. It is not being selfish to think about your needs, and to make sure that they are being met. Caring for another person can be rewarding and very challenging. It requires time, and often, significant physical and emotional energy. Planning to incorporate self-care into your regular routine will help you, and those around you, in your caregiving journey. Self-care is personal. Find what works best for you. Below are some ideas to help you look after yourself.
These activities may help enhance your energy:
- Go for a walk (bring your favourite music or a dog!).
- Take time to do some simple stretching.
- Pick a day to get some extra sleep.
- Get a manicure or pedicure.
- Drink more water.
- Go to a park and enjoy nature.
- Get a massage.
- Cook a nice meal.
- Do yoga.
- Dance in your living room.
- Give and get a hug.
- Walk a labyrinth.
Activities that help you think clearly and be in tune with your feelings:
- Keep a journal.
- Label your feelings as you become aware of them. Do not judge them.
- Be aware that your feelings will come and go.
- Talk to a friend.
- Meet with a professional counsellor.
These types of experiences may restore some of your energy:
- Practice stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing, meditation and visualization.
- Take breaks from periods of isolation. Join with others to share activities.
- Give yourself permission to do something that feels good to you.
- Engage in practices that are meaningful to you such as prayer, walking in the woods, sitting quietly, reading inspirational material, taking a bath, or writing in a journal.
- Let yourself cry.
- Lower expectations regarding what you think you “should be doing.”
Some people find that walking a labyrinth, a single continuous path, combines mind, body and soul in a healing walking meditation. To find a list of labyrinths in the Ottawa area, go to – http://www.labyrinthnetwork.ca/
Labyrinth Community Network features communities across Ontario who have built and sustain a labyrinth.
There are also many books, websites and web apps featuring mindfulness as a way to help reduce stress and bring more calm and peace to your life. Here is a small selection:
Jon Kabat Zinn – MBSR:
- Full Catastrophe Living – the original MBSR book
- Wherever you go, there you are – a practical guide to meditation
Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, John Teasdale – MBCT:
- The Mindful Way Through Depression – the original MBCT book.
- Mindfulnet.org – mindfulness information website that bills itself as “everything you need to know about mindfulness on one website”
- Mindful.org – website and magazine about mindfulness
- Mindfulness-based Health
- Heather Stang: Mindfulness and grief