There’s no doubt: caregiving is a stressful job. If you help take care of an aging, ill, or disabled loved one, you are a caregiver. And although caregiving may take up a lot of your time, you need to make time for yourself too, says the Family Caregiving Alliance.

If you’ve been trying to juggle caregiving with your other commitments, it’s time to take a moment and think about your own needs. If you keep doing things for others without taking time for yourself, your health and entire life could suffer. Caregivers of all ages can be prone to the following problems:

  • Depression or anxiety
  • High stress levels
  • Poor quality sleep or not sleeping enough
  • Unhealthy diet choices
  • Lack of exercise
  • Not getting needed health care for themselves
  • Financial problems
  • Feeling isolated and alone

These factors together can create health and personal problems. Before you reach the point of burnout, try to find a way to get a break from caregiving. Think about what would relax you and help you recharge. Is it a lunch date with a friend? An aerobics or yoga class? A walk through the park? A soak in the tub? Whatever it is, you deserve the time to do it.

How to find the time

Not sure how to find time for yourself? Talk to others who can help out. Ask friends, neighbors, or family members to step in for just an hour or two so you can have a break. Or, if you can, have your loved one spend some time at an adult day care or respite center. If others have offered to help in any way, learn how to say, “Yes, that would be great,” and accept their offer. Many caregivers mistakenly think they need to do it all themselves – don’t!

Many people feel guilty leaving their loved one for even a short while. But remember, you need to recharge yourself so you can be the best caregiver possible. You’re doing it for others just as much as for yourself.

Talk to others

Many caregiver support groups are available online and in local communities. Connecting with others who understand can go a long way in helping you feel better. The local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) is a good place to start. Some support groups are online, while others offer in-person meetings. Choose what is right for you.

Remember: Taking time for you is not being selfish. It’s a necessity. You deserve some time to take care of your own needs. It will allow you to be the best you can be in all areas of your life.

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