This Year, Care for Yourself Too

The New Year brings a fresh start. For many people, that means setting new goals.

As a caregiver, now is the perfect time to put yourself back on the priority list so you can get the self-care you need and deserve. It’s natural for caregivers to put themselves last, but this subconscious habit can have serious consequences. Studies show that it can cause serious chronic illness and higher rates of early death. Ongoing stress also negatively affects mood, relationships and overall well-being.

Thankfully, there are some easy self-care goals out there to protect your long-term health and well-being. These goals and suggestions are meant to inspire creative thinking to help you find solutions that will give you time to rest and recharge. As the saying goes, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” The more your own needs are met, the better caregiver you can be.

New Year’s Goals for Caregivers

Get help so you’re not doing everything by yourself

  • Put together a caregiving team of family, friends, and/or local resources to lean on.
  • Ask family or friends to help you – whether it’s hands-on care, providing companionship, managing finances, doing research, running errands, doing chores, etc.
  • Get outside help or lower your standards for time-consuming chores like cleaning or cooking.

Take time for yourself every day

  • Take micro breaks throughout the day – it’s an effective way to reduce stress when you’re short on time.
  • Do a 2-minute meditation, breathing exercise, or calming exercise.
  • Improve circulation and reduce stress with an easy 4-minute workout.
  • Escape from reality with a great book, magazine, or audiobook.
  • Connect with friends – through phone calls, video chats, coffee, or a socially distant meal.
  • Relax your body and get some fresh air with a casual stroll around the block.
  • Do something (anything!) just for you. Everyone needs regular “me” time.

Stop wishful thinking

  • In caregiving, it’s important to manage your emotional energy as well as your time.
  • Wishing or hoping that something will change even though you’ve seen the same outcome time after time is a drain on that energy.
  • But accepting the way things are allows you to use your valuable emotional energy on positive things rather than repeatedly wishing for something and then getting frustrated when it doesn’t happen.