Why is taking the time to practice self-care so important? If you, as the caregiver, are constantly running around taking care of a cancer patient and not taking the time to do anything for yourself, then you will eventually be running on empty. Once you are on empty, you may not be able to fulfill the essential aspects of your role as a caretaker. Below are some ways you can practice self-care to help yourself be the best caretaker and loved one you can be. Even incorporating one new form of selfcare can make the difference in your life and the life a cancer patient.
Seek assistance from family, friends, and/or professionals. Taking a step back to allow other members of the family or close friends that are willing to assist will give you a much-needed break and time to recharge. Help can also come in the form of someone outside of your close circle. Speaking to a therapist will allow you to speak freely about the issues going on in your life and brainstorming ways you can not only help yourself but also your loved one. Joining a support group is a great way to reassure you that you are not alone, and others are in the same boat as you. Reading and discussing ways that helped other cancer caregivers may give you ideas that will make your life easier and more fulfilling. There should be no shame in asking for help, no one can do everything all by themselves 100% of the time. Attached are some websites that provide caregiver support and other resources caregivers can use.
Take time to do something YOU enjoy doing. This can be going to a yoga class, grabbing a bite to eat with friends, go shopping at the mall for yourself, or getting your hair done. Stepping away for an hour or two can allow you to reenergize and recuperate.
Your health is also important during this time. Make sure you are keeping up with your own medical appointments and seeking medical assistance if you are having an issue along with taking medication as prescribed. Aside from that, exercise is a great way to keep you healthy, but it can also help clear your mind. Walking around the neighborhood, taking a 15-minute bike ride, or doing yard work all count. Sleep is key player in being healthy. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night allow you to be well rested and energized. Taking turns with another family member or a trusted friend to aid with medication delivery, personal care or side effect management during the night helps prevent burn out.
Eating healthy, well balanced meals that will give you energy and can be easily prepared as you do not have the luxury of spending hours in the kitchen preparing meals. There are plenty of websites out there that have either 30-minute meals or one pot meals as the last thing we want you to do it clean a huge mess in the kitchen after a long day. Following the plate method helps you eat foods from all 5 food groups; dividing your place into 4 sections- fruits, grains, vegetables and protein along with a serving of dairy. Attached are websites that have recipes created by Registered Dietitians that have a variety of different flavors and dietary considerations.
Social workers and other staff members at the Georgia Cancer Center are here to help you and your loved one throughout this process. Please do not hesitate to call or ask for assistance.