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Take Care of Yourself to Take Care of Others

Practical tips for self-care

  • Get enough sleep. A good night’s sleep is best, but if caregiving interrupts sleep, try to take a nap during the day.
  • Get outside. Caregiving can mean a lot of time indoors, but natural light helps reset your system and stimulates healthy responses in your body.
  • Try a group fitness class. Group classes can be more motivating because of their social atmosphere. Not only will you get good exercise, but you’ll also build up a social circle to support you in your caregiving. Many hospitals offer group health programs.
  • Learn to be safe. If your caregiving requires things like lifting or transferring your loved one, be sure to ask a doctor, nurse, or physical therapist to show you the correct way to do it so that you don’t hurt yourself.
  • Cut corners in a healthy way. Caregiving for another eats into time for self-care. Use the salad bar at the grocery store or buy freshly prepared, healthy meals now available at many groceries if you don’t have time to cook yourself.

Dana Dowd, MSPT, is a physical therapist at Saint Luke Institute.