Taking care of a sick loved one is exhausting physically and emotionally. It’s stressful enough to watch your loved one in pain when there’s little you can do to improve their situation. Additionally, you’ll have to adjust your daily life to accommodate the changes that come with having a loved one in poor health.
Burying yourself in stress and exhausting yourself with the many responsibilities can make you sick too. If you’re trying to be there for your loved one, how do you take care of yourself?
Join Support Groups
When you join support groups, you’ll find support from other people who have sick loved ones and are experiencing the same challenges. Joining support groups allows you to open up about your situation without fear of judgment. Those in the group will also share their experiences, making you feel comfortable.
The good thing about support groups is that you’ll feel comfortable sharing with strangers who you’ll probably never meet. The comfort may also come from the fact that your loved one is not in the group, preventing you from opening up about your challenges.
Join specific support groups for more meaningful interactions. For instance, if your loved one has mesothelioma, search for mesothelioma suppot groups in your area and online.
Create Time for Your Needs
Taking care of a sick loved one can be a full-time job, but you can still set time aside for yourself. If you’re struggling to juggle everything, you could visit a physician to discuss your options.
To be able to find time, seek help from other relatives, friends, and professionals. You can have someone watch over your loved one as you take a walk, go shopping or meet with friends. When the responsibilities are overwhelming, find someone to take care of chores.
This is especially important when you still have work responsibilities to attend to. Remember to sleep well, eat healthy meals and resolve stressful situations.
Be Specific About the Help You Need
Friends and relatives might not know you need help unless you tell them. Many might even come to visit you but are unsure of what to do to improve the situation.
Learn to ask for specific help; instead of telling someone to visit you, tell them what chores you need help with. If you need some help picking groceries, let a visiting friend know so they can help you shop. If the bills are piling up, let someone you trust know so they can help you pay them off.
Take a Day or Two Away
It might sound selfish to go away for a day or two, leaving your loved one alone. If your loved one is in good hands, you’ll feel free and rested when you get back home. A day or two away will give you the emotional support needed to better care for a sick loved one.
You’ll also be able to do things for yourself that make you relax. Make sure the time away is not to attend to other responsibilities but to relax and have fun. You’ll feel more refreshed and happy when you get back home.
Learn to Balance Your Responsibilities
As you will find out, there is a lot you’ll have to deal with every day other than taking care of your sick loved one. Probably you have a business to run, chores to attend to, children who need your attention, and more. Learn to balance your responsibilities and create an effective schedule.
When you neglect some duties, you’ll get stressed, affecting how well you take care of your loved one. Learn to limit certain activities, so you’ll have time for others. For instance, if work takes up a lot of your time, consider having someone else handle the business while you take care of your sick loved one. Additionally, learn the situations that might cause stress in your life and pay more attention to them.
For example, if the doctor’s office is far and you get tired of driving there, have a friend take you or ask your physician to refer you to a closer hospital. Lastly, as much as possible, try not to think about everything that needs doing but do the most pressing chores first.
As you will realize, taking care of yourself is not selfish. It prepares you physically, emotionally, and mentally to be a better caregiver for your loved one. Remember, one of you has to be strong for the other. When you take good care of yourself, you’ll have more to give to your loved one.
This is a contributed post.