Caregivers need to schedule time for themselves—and consider it a true priority.Recently, a caregiver commented to me, “The hard part about caregiving is you lose so much of yourself—your time, your hobbies, your friends—that pretty soon you turn into a hermit because it is just easier.”
Yes, finding balance is tough. And yes, becoming a hermit may be easier in the short term. But it can be devastating in the long-term—to your psyche, your self-esteem, and most importantly, your health.
So put some time for yourself on the schedule. And I mean schedule. On the calendar and considered just as important as the other things on it.
o Schedule breaks. Ten minutes for a cup of coffee. Or the crossword. Or a shower.
o Schedule exercise. Whether a trip to the gym, time with a workout tape, or a walk with a friend (double benefit) make sure you keep moving.
o Schedule “self-care” appointments—the hair-dresser, the dentist, the annual check-up. The easiest thing is to plan these for yourself when you schedule them for your care recipient. Then you will be sure to go.
o Schedule time to talk. Lean on your old friends, people who can lend an ear—and who can remind you of your non-caregiving self. You might also join a support group—you will feel less isolated and may even get some good tips.
And one more thing that makes it possible to keep all those schedules: Always have a Plan B and a Plan C. That makes it easier to roll with the punches.