How To Keep it Together Emotionally as a Caregiver

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Caregiving, whether for the frail, elderly, disabled or those in recovery can send your emotions on a virtual roller coaster ride. In any 24 hour period you can experience fear, rage, hope, sadness, humor, grief, bravery, fatigue, dedication, and be overwhelmed with love.

To keep yourself in good shape mentally and emotionally, it is important that you think of yourself. It is O.K. to do this; in fact, you will be doing your loved one a favor as you will be far more effective as a caregiver when you are relaxed and rested. During their industry training, professional caregivers are encouraged to remember the importance of caring for themselves. The same advice is key, and perhaps even more essential, for the family caregiver.

Before you are drained of all physical and emotional reserves, here are a few recommendations that are sure to rejuvenate the spirit:

Pamper yourself. This could be anything from taking time to enjoy a massage or a manicure to doing absolutely nothing.

Make a date with your spouse or friends for a night out, so that you can enjoy some time away from home.

Take a walk. Whether it be in your neighborhood or in a nearby park, enjoy the beauty of nature. The fresh air will work wonders in clearing your mind.

Take time to laugh. Find humor in everyday situations. Laughter is surely the best medicine, and there is no copay!

Take care of your physical self. This can be as simple as taking time to eat nutritious meals and getting adequate sleep.

Buy yourself flowers. There is nothing like a colorful bouquet to lift spirits.

Take time to nurture your closest relationships as these can restore energy and alleviate some of the psychological effects of burnout.

Connect with a cause or community group that you believe in. Joining such a group allows you to meet others with similar interests.

Set limits. Do not try to do it all yourself. Remember you need to stay healthy, so accept help when it is offered. Do not be afraid to ask relatives and friends for assistance.

Make time to read. Get a book that will transport you to another time and place.

Bob Callaghan is the Immediate Past Chairperson, New York State Association of Health Care Providers. For further information, visit

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