How Caregivers Can Make Time for Self-Care Essentials

This is an article by Marie Villeza. I offer it with the author’s permission for informational purposes. The author and I have no financial involvement.


By Marie Villeza, Guest Columnist

Photo credit: Pixabay

Life is full of ups and downs, rewards, and challenges. Being a caregiver for someone you love is a life experience that can be rewarding, but it comes with challenges, too. If you’re new to this role, you’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed and wondering how you’re going to make it all work. To start with, the best thing you can do for yourself now is prioritize self-care. It isn’t easy adding one more task to your busy life, but these are self-care essentials that you need as a caregiver so that your own health doesn’t suffer.

Do Something Just for You

As a caregiver, so much of what you do is for someone else, but you don’t want to put yourself on the backburner. The trick is to be creative about fitting quick pick-me-ups into your busy schedule. One of the best things you can do, for your physical and mental health, is short bursts of exercise. People who are really busy sometimes think that exercise is something they don’t have time for because it takes so long to get to the gym. Instead of feeling like you need to work out for an hour or more, try doing some short at-home exercises that are easy to do with the help of technology, such as exercise videos on YouTube, fitness apps for your mobile device, or playing Wii games.

Caring for yourself can also be as simple as taking a single minute to relax and breathe. Try these tips from Mind Body Green to fit self-care into whatever amount of time you have. If all you have is a minute, breathe mindfully, take a break to stretch or dance, or say positive affirmations. If you have a little longer, make a cup of tea or call someone close to you. Staying connected with friends and family is a vital coping strategy for caregivers, and all it takes is a quick text or phone call to keep that communication open. If you still need a little extra help with taking time for yourself, these apps will help you stay on track.

Build a Support System

Building a support system is a key self-care strategy that takes more than the occasional phone call to friends. Maintaining those connections is a great start, but it’s also good to have the support of other people who are in a similar situation. Consider finding a caregiver support group, either online or one that meets in person. Connecting with others who have been there will help you feel understood, and you may also find some great advice.

Even if you’re the primary caregiver for your loved one, it’s perfectly okay (and necessary at times) to ask for help. Being a caregiver can take a toll on you both physically and emotionally. You shouldn’t have to do it all on your own, and if you try, you may end up experiencing symptoms of burnout. Besides getting emotional support from friends, they can also be a great resource for lightening your load. If your caregiving duties make it hard to keep up with tasks like errands, ask a good friend to help out with these little things.

Give Yourself a Break

Another essential way to care for yourself is to take a break from caregiving on occasion. Even if you are a primary caregiver, there are services that can help when you need it, such as adult day services or respite care.

Give yourself a break emotionally, too. The Home Care Assistance blog recommends setting realistic goals and avoiding negative self-talk. Don’t be hard on yourself for anything you aren’t able to do or for feeling a certain way. It’s important to acknowledge that your feelings are normal and perfectly acceptable.

The goal of these strategies is to keep your mind in the right place so you’re better able to cope with everything that’s going on. Pushing your feelings and your own needs aside will only compound your burden. Caregiving can be a challenge, which is exactly why these self-care tips are more important now than ever.



Marie Villeza’s mission is to empower seniors against ageism by providing information they need to keep control of their own lives. For more information, please visit Click here to learn about helping a senior addict parent from a distance.






  1. Connie Martin on February 17, 2019 at 12:45 am

    As with all blogs or articles from others, Dr. Webster’s articles are the only ones I have made time for to read each time a new one arrives. Although there were some great ideas contained with the “Caregiver” article, I just don’t know when I would have the time to even try any of the tips that the writer suggested. Aside from caring for my family, all of whom work for my business, so I’m financially responsible for them all, I also am still running my own full time business of over 33 years, and have spent the last 12 years caring for my elderly father, which is a full time job on it’s own. Due to the early passing of immediate family members, including the last person who was helping with my father, I inherited this position by default. Unfortunately, among the seven typed pages of medical diagnoses he has, one is Narcissistic Personality Disorder. He is self-absorbed, with no empathy or appreciation for the responses to, and never-ending tasks related to, his multiple, daily demands. I receive on average, 5 – 7 calls a day from someone related medically for my father. Subsequently, my health has been impacted, as has my family, and my finances, due to the additional financial assistance related directly to, or for, my father. After 11 years of caring for him, in 2018 we finally lost everything, including having to close down my office to work from home. This has all been in direct correlation to taking care of my father – who by the way, was rarely in my life at all while growing up, so this was not a job I signed up for, nor wanted. It’s only through some odd sense of responsibility that I have continued on, in the face of so much time, business, and money lost – for all my care-giving efforts. So, I would like to take a ‘non-working tea break’ or any of the other recommendations noted, but not all care-giving for another person is the same.

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