Dealing with Caregiver Stress: 5 Essential Tips for Caregiver Self-Care

Caregiver with patient

Being a parent can be exhausting and some of us also have the added responsibility of caring for aging parents which can result in caregiver stress.

Yet research has shown that when we take time on a daily basis to self-care, it can reenergize us, boost our immunity and elevate our feelings of happiness and when we are happier, the whole family is happier!

So how can we incorporate a bit of self-care into our already busy day? The internet is full of articles offering sound advice but it may feel that those tips are easier said than done.

Here’s the key: Write it down!

Journaling is quickly becoming an easy and popular way to jot down to-do lists, goals, and to track your progress against them. So grab a notebook and pen or use Calroo’s Lists feature to follow these 5 simple tips that will allow you to carve out some ‘me time’ whilst creating healthier habits.

1: Sleep Tracker

Sleeping the recommended 7-9 hours a night will recharge your energy levels, reset your mind and you’ll feel more ready to take on the responsibility of looking after others. However, with crazy schedules and a seemingly never-ending to-do list, sometimes making sleep a priority is easily forgotten.

First Step: Set a goal for how long you want to sleep. Then, just track how many hours you slept each night! This simple exercise will give you an instant overview on whether you need to increase those zzzs.

Taking it a Step Further: You can also track how well you slept, what you ate the night before, or other factors you think may affect your quality of sleep.

2: Food Journal

If you are caring for someone else, it is probably easiest for you to just grab whatever food is around. However, what goes into our bodies is what keeps us functioning. It is important to hold yourself accountable for the quality of food you are eating by keeping track of what you eat.  

First Step: Write down all the food and drinks you ate that day. That’s it! Make a simple list with the following headings: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks, and Water and fill it in as you go about your day.

Taking it a Step Further: Note how you felt after each meal. Did you still feel hungry? Did you feel energized? Are there certain foods that you can replace with healthier options? You could also consider planning your meals ahead of time to help keep things more organized.

3: Gratitude Journal

As a caretaker, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and always be thinking about the next thing that needs to get done. However, taking a moment to step back and appreciate the small things that make you smile is a very positive practice. Focusing on even one good aspect of your day can change your entire outlook.

First Step: Write down what you are grateful for. Just one thing every day. It can be something as small as, “The weather was good today”.

Taking it a Step Further: Just before bedtime jot down all the good things, both big and small, that made your day a good one. You may not even feel that it was a great day but when you train your mind to pick out the positive highlights, it acts as a reminder that there is much to be thankful for.

4: Workout Goals

It’s true what they say, exercising does release those happy hormones and who doesn’t want to feel happier? As a caregiver, you may not be getting as much exercise as you’d like but there are creative ways to keep moving and burning calories.

First Step: Write down how much exercise you are currently getting and then write one extra goal e.g. “Today I will walk an extra 1000 steps.” or “I will put on some fun music and dance around the kitchen with my kids.”

Taking it a Step Further: It’s proven fact that if you have something scheduled in your calendar then it will happen. So if you are looking to get more active, add it to your calendar. Even better, find a workout buddy and schedule a walk or a gym class that you can both participate in.

5: Self-Care Cheat Sheet

As caregivers, we are busy and life moves at a fast pace but once a week, schedule in time to really slow down, breathe and do something that you love. Write down all your favorite things that brighten your mood and simply make it a habit to do it once a week.

First Step: Just write down whatever makes you happy. It could be a bubbly bath, napping, reading a good book, meeting friends, enjoying a date night. Next, set a time to do a different thing each week.

Taking it a Step Further: Keep track of what actually works, and reflect on how helpful it was in elevating your mood.

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind, caregiving is a two-way street. In order to best take care of others, it starts with you. Hopefully, these bullet journal suggestions will inspire you to prioritize self-care first and make your caregiving job just a little easier.