These guidelines are helpful whether you are taking care of yourself or if you are a caregiver for another person. They are summarized from the National Council on Aging, Inc., “Caregiving Tips” series.
First of all, admit your feelings. Feeling tired, isolated, helpless, angry or scared can be indications that you are trying to handle too much without the help and information you need. Such feelings, though difficult, are natural. Talk to your family and friends about what you feel; don’t keep everything inside yourself.
Set reasonable expectations of yourself. Don’t reproach yourself for failing to be superwoman or superman. Admit to yourself and your friends what you want and need, and what you can and cannot do for yourself. Knowing your limits (and respecting them yourself) is an important part of taking care of yourself.
Seek help when you need it. Look to professionals and service agencies as partners who can provide guidance and counseling for you. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Ask questions. If you do not find the answer right away, ask who else may be able to help you in your situation.
Take care of yourself physically. Eat regular, balanced meals. Exercise as part of your daily routine to maintain fitness and ease tension. Use relaxation techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing, massage, and a sense of humor. Do not forget to take care of yourself when things are tough. This is the most important time to be good to yourself.
Avoid destructive ways of coping, such as overeating, alcohol or drug misuse, and neglecting or taking out your stress on others.
Maintain activities and social contacts that you enjoy. Plan occasions for your own pleasure and renewal.