When a loved one gets sick, it can feel like your world has been turned upside down. Suddenly your days become full of doctor’s appointments, worrying if they’re ok, and doing your best to help them as much as possible. If your loved one has chosen to age in place with at-home palliative care, you may even start to no longer feel like a friend, family member, or partner and instead like a caregiver.
In these times, it can be easy to neglect your own needs in order to be there for your loved one. However, as the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty glass, meaning not taking care of yourself can make it so you can’t properly be there for your loved one.
Self-care can look different for everyone, but here are a few things to keep in mind to keep yourself mentally and physically healthy while you care for a loved one who is sick.
1. Make Time for Yourself
Caregivers can often feel guilty for the time they spend doing things for themselves instead of taking care of their loved one. It is not selfish to make time for yourself; in fact, it’s extremely important. Making time for your hobbies, friends, and regular routines can help you maintain a sense of self when nothing else in your life feels normal.
2. Focus on Proper Nutrition and Exercise
Physical health and mental health go hand in hand; when one is doing well, it can be easier to take care of the other. Taking care of your body through exercise and nutrition will give you enough energy and help you stay as healthy as possible.
Take some time at the beginning of each week to meal prep and schedule your exercise so staying healthy is as easy as possible. This way, you will be less likely to opt for fast food when you need something to eat or skip working out.
3. Have Someone You Can Talk To
When a loved one is sick, it can be easy to become isolated from other friends and family. Letting people who care about you in and talking to them about what you’re going through can be very beneficial. If you need additional support, reaching out to a professional is a great option.
4. Get Enough Sleep
Not getting enough sleep can lead to several health problems and can make it so you cannot show up and be present for your loved one because you are so exhausted. Waking up at the same time each morning and going to sleep at the same time each night can be a great first step in balancing your sleep schedule. Short naps throughout the day can also help you catch up on lost sleep without affecting your ability to fall asleep at night.
5. Continue to Take Care of Your Own Health
The last thing you probably want to do when your loved one is sick is spent any more time in a hospital, clinic, or around a doctor. However, if you’re ill, you cannot be of use to your loved one. Keeping up with your doctor’s appointments and any medications you regularly take is essential for maintaining your health.