Sometimes caregivers need a reminder that it’s important to look out for themselves while caring for another person.
“I encourage them to put their own oxygen mask on first before helping others,” Harvath says. She recommends starting with steps such as taking 5 minutes a day to do something indulgent, like having a cup of tea and putting your feet up. When you can, extend that period for as long as possible.
Mindfulness meditation and exercise like yoga can be beneficial and reduce stress as well, Stephen says. Watching a movie, with or without the person you’re caring for, is an easy way to take a break, he adds. AARP and other groups do group screenings or offer programs through a virtual community center.
If other family members are caregivers and aren’t taking adequate care of themselves, mention the importance of self-care to them, Kallmyer says. “They often don’t want to ask for help; they feel it’s some sort of indictment on their relationship with the person or their abilities,” she says. Get them to reframe those thoughts so that they understand they’re doing their best, and that asking for help and taking breaks are necessary.