I’ve been helping my parents out for about a year — Dad’s arthritis makes it hard for him to get around, and Mom’s starting to show signs of dementia. With going to their house every day, taking care of my kids and having a part-time job, I’m exhausted all the time and feel miserable. My husband says I need to ease up and rest, but who has time for that?
Taking care of aging parents and not taking care of themselves is a very common scenario for caregivers. The National Center on Caregiving says that family caregivers tend to suffer from sleep deprivation, have poor eating habits, don’t exercise, and often put off making doctor appointments when they’re ill. And caregivers who don’t practice self-care are at an increased risk of depression, chronic illness, and excessive use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
If you become exhausted, sick or burned out, you can’t give your parent the care they need. Taking care of yourself needs to be a priority so you can function from a position of strength and wellness.
There’s an App for That
It’s important to care for your body, mind and spirit. Here are a few smartphone apps that can make it easier to work self-care into your everyday routine.
- Your body needs enough water to survive and function properly. Plant Nanny and Waterlogged are easy ways to remind yourself to get enough to drink.
- If you need help finding healthier recipes or planning better-for-you meals and snacks, try Allrecipes Dinner Spinner or Yummly. They have large, searchable databases to make it easy to nourish your body.
- You can find apps to help you do yoga and plenty of other types of exercise that fit your level of ability and interest. You can also create a playlist on your phone and go for a walk around the block.
- Manage your stress or anxiety with some guided meditations or breathing exercises.
- Give yourself some positive perspective with a gratitude journal.
- Take a mental break with a good book — or even a coloring book.
- Lift your spirits and practice the art of happiness with Happify. Activities, games and quizzes help you manage stress, reorient negative thoughts and feel better about life.
- If you’re struggling with the emotional roller coaster that comes with caregiving, and you can’t get out to see a therapist, Talkspace could be helpful. Users get matched with a licensed therapist based on their needs. Once you choose a payment plan, you can send messages to your therapist to start working things through.
You can also check out a full list of our Top 10 Caregiver Apps in 2018.
It’s not just OK for you to make yourself a priority — it’s imperative. You’re the only “you” there is. By taking better care of yourself, you’ll be able to take better care of your parent. And you’ll have a happier, healthier life while you’re doing it.
Start with one small change. What will you do to practice self-care? Write down your change, and post it on the mirror or your desk as a daily reminder. And we’d love for you to share your goals and progress with other caregivers on our Facebook page.