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How to take care of yourself to benefit your well-being

The gifts have all been opened… the family turkey dinner has been enjoyed… the tree, ornaments, and leftover wrapping paper have been stored away until next year. The holidays are over (and you may be breathing a sigh of relief that things can now return to a more normal state of affairs). It’s now time to get back to your daily caregiving responsibilities; however, before you resume these tasks, consider making a New Year’s Resolution – to make more time for yourself. When thinking of your daily routine and your seemingly endless list of things that need to be done, you may scoff at the idea and think that it is either impossible (you are already running from dawn to dusk) or unnecessary (your aging loved one is your primary responsibility and you can effectively manage). Besides that, there are only so many hours in a day and finding time for yourself may seem far-fetched. But before you dismiss the plan (as many New Year’s Resolutions are made and then broken), give the idea some careful thought. Yes, many resolutions made are often broken (as an example, gyms are typically busier in January compared to other months of the year). While exercising is a noble goal, the way that many people approach weight loss, fitness, and/or better nutrition may not be completely realistic. Which is more attainable – shedding 50 pounds in the next month or simply eating more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis? When you keep your promises simple, you can also avoid being discouraged if and when you find they may be too grand or lofty. When resolutions are not – or cannot - be achieved they will often get dropped and leave individuals disappointed and hesitant to try again. Why Caregivers Need Respite To avoid disappointment and frustration, seek respite care. If you have been overwhelmingly busy with tasks at-hand, you may be asking yourself, what is respite care? Anything you do for yourself can be constituted as personal respite care. While you may easily feel overwhelmed with providing help and support for an aging loved one, you must be mindful of your own well-being. If you become too exhausted or sick by trying to take on too much, who will be there for your loved one(s)? You don’t have to take huge leaps towards your own self-care. Instead, try taking small steps towards this goal and you can accomplish much more. Do you have the time to read a chapter of a favorite book? Can you drive a more scenic route on the way home from the office so you have more personal time? Can you sign-up for a weekly yoga class? Even starting with one day per week for personal respite time can help. The Importance of Self-Care Once you have realized the importance of self-care (or at least agreed to experiment with it), you might also want to write your resolution down, post it in a prominent spot in your home where you will see it regularly or even share it with a trusted friend. You can also share your resolution publicly if you wish. Vocalizing your goal can be a good way to commit to your promise. Another idea could be to give yourself a small reward when you achieve your goal – this will give you something to work towards and anticipate. Seeking respite care is not self-indulgent. Promising yourself personal caregiving respite breaks (and regularly taking personal caregiving respite breaks) can better ensure that your new year is happier! For more information on how to find respite care, check out our recent post here:

About the Author(s)

As a former co-caregiver, Rick Lauber helped and supported his own aging parents. His mother had Parkinson's and Leukemia and his father had Alzheimer's. Rick learned that caregiving is challenging and used writing to personally cope.

His stories became two books, Caregiver's Guide for Canadians and The Successful Caregiver's Guide.

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