Caregiver, you are VERY important

We know that giving care and support during this time can be a challenge for you. You, as many caregivers put their own needs and feelings aside to focus on the person you love. This can be hard to maintain, and chronic stress can impact your physical and mental health. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others. So, it’s important to maintain a balance and invest in your health, as it is also important for everyone that you give care to. 

Whether you’re younger or older, you may find yourself in a new role as a caregiver. You may have been an active part of someone’s life before, but now, that they’re living a cancer journey, the way you support them is different. It may be in a way in which you haven’t had much experience, or in a way that feels more intense than before. 

Even though caregiving may feel new to you now, many caregivers say that they learn more as they go through their loved one’s cancer experience. Whatever your roles are now, it’s very common to feel confused and stressed at this time. Common situations that they describe being a caregiver are related to the level of emotional tension. Sometimes, it is higher than before, and overload leads to physical exhaustion and feelings of sadness, and a situation of frustration can be generated due to the lack of recognition or effectiveness of your actions. 

It´s very important that, in these cases, you try to share your feelings with others or join a support group and ask for help too. 

Take an honest look at what you can and can’t do. What things do you need or want to do yourself? What tasks can you turn over or share with people? Be willing to let go of things that others can help you do. 

Accepting help from others isn’t always easy. But remember that getting help for yourself can also help your loved one—you may stay healthier, your loved one may feel happier if he/she notices that you are in balance and receiving well-being. 

WAYS TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.  

Taking time to recharge your mind, body, and spirit can help you be a better caregiver, so let’s try these essentials bits of advice to become the best helper! You may want to think about the following · 

Make Time for Yourself.

  • Find time to take care of yourself Take at least 15-30 minutes each day to do something for yourself. For example, try to make time for a nap, exercise, yard work, a hobby, watching tv or a movie, or whatever you find relaxing. Do gentle exercises, such as stretching or yoga.  
  • Don’t Neglect Your Personal Life. It’s okay to cut back on personal activities, but do not cut them out entirely. For example, look for easy ways to connect with friends and with your family too. 
  • Keep Up Your Routine. If you can, try to keep doing some of your regular activities. If you don’t use to practice a routine, studies show that it can increase the stress you feel. You may have to do things at a different time of day or for less time than you normally would but try to still do them. Make a list of your priorities and try to find valuable time to practice them.  
  • Ask for Help. Find larger chunks of “off-duty” time by asking for help. Find things others can do or arrange for you, such as appointments or errands.  
  • Practice Gratitude. It is known that gratitude can enhance your compassion, serenity and help you focus on positivity. We know the situation can be very difficult but try to find out even 5 things to be grateful for.  
  • Eat healthier. It’s important to have a balanced diet, based on an anti-inflammatory diet, as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, good sources of oils ( as olive oil, almonds, coconut oil, avocados…). Try to use a variety of healthy spices while cooking, remember that turmeric is a wonderful one, not only for cooking but also can be an energetic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant boost, so try golden milk daily to improve your fatigue and health! 
  • Find Time to Relax. Take deep breaths, connect with the present moment, and anchor yourself to it without judgment. Meditation can help you become more active in this healing process, with mindfulness, awareness, calm, and serenity, letting yourself feel more frequently, a relaxed and peaceful state of mind, even when your daily emotions and thoughts can be agitated. Try to just sit still for a minute, to practice the 4-7-8 breathing technique, ( inhale counting 4seconds, hold it for 7 seconds cs, and exhale counting 8 seconds). Try to practice it 4 times during the morning and evening. It is known as a peaceful and calmer technique! If you found it hard to practice, you can begin with fewer seconds, or you can go to the Healing Presents App and do some of the guided breathing exercises.

Look for moments, ways, and tools that promote your well-being. YOU are as important as your loved one. Taking care of yourself is also taking care of them, you are their guiding light! And remember, you´re not alone, we are with you. 

If you want to give a special gift to your caregiver, share this article so that he/she has tools and is better off.