The 3 Biggest Mistakes Family Caregivers Make. Solve Mistake #1: Not Taking Care Of Yourself

February 24, 2015 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ All Blog Posts,Caregiving,Family Caregiver,Library of Blogs, Articles & Videos

Family caregivers are notorious for taking care of others but not taking care of themselves. Not taking care of yourself is the #1 mistake family caregivers make.

Not taking care of yourself as a family caregiver is a tragic mistake not only for you, but also for your aging loved one.

To be an effective family caregiver you need to be your best self. Being worn out, worn down, distraught, distracted does not represent your best self and does not let you be the best family caregiver.

What can family caregivers do to take care of themselves? Make time for YOU!

Making time for you is, yes, easier said than done. It begins simply, or not so simply, with making the commitment. It has to be important to you. It has to be a priority.

So, let’s get practical with some tips.

Tips to Make Time For YOU!

  • Make it doable

Don’t tell yourself you will make 30 minutes a day for yourself if you know you’ve tried in the past and failed. Scale back. Start easy. If you can only give yourself 5 minutes a day, then admit that and commit to it. This is not about seeing how much time you can give yourself. This is all about creating success. So whether it is a lot of time or just a little bit, it’s just perfect for you. Commit to whatever amount of time you can successfully give yourself day in and day out.

  • Make it a priority

Think about those things that you absolutely have to remember to do. How do you remind yourself? Do you put it in your calendar? Is it a note on the refrigerator? Do you write it on the bathroom mirror in erasable whiteboard marker or lipstick? Do you set a timer to go off? Whatever method you use to remind yourself of those things that are important to you use the same way to remind yourself of the time you are committing to your self-care.

  • Stick to it

Once you’ve decided how much time you can commit to your self-care and have a reminder system in place so you remember your self-care, then you have to stick to it. Your self-care is not optional!

  • Keep it interesting

How you spend the time you’ve committed and prioritized to your self-care is important. Variety may help you stick with your self-care. Above all, spend your self-care time in a way you enjoy. Maybe you like:

– Deep breathing: 3 deep cleansing breaths 5 times a day will only take you 5 minutes a day.

– Walking: Walking is excellent for getting your body moving. It also doesn’t really matter whether your walk is short or long. Walking is cumulative. Walking doesn’t take a lot of special equipment. And, you can do it almost anywhere. Walking is very versatile.

– Meditating: Meditating can be very relaxing. Among the many places you can find guided meditations are and

– Reading: Read anything you want. This is your time. Read the newspaper, magazine, book, anything you enjoy.

– Writing: Do whatever kind of writing you want. Maybe you enjoy journaling, writing poetry, lyrics, rap.

– Listening to music: Whether it’s soft relaxing music or music that gets you energized, listen to whatever music makes you feel how you want and maybe you’ll relieve some tension in the process.

– Dancing: Dancing or just moving to music can be fun and enjoyable. Whether it’s slow moving or fast, do whatever feels right for you. What feels right to you today may not feel right to you tomorrow. Be flexible. Let your body, mind, and spirit guide you.

– TV: Do you have a favorite television program you never get to watch? Can’t watch it live? Record it or download it and use your self-care time to enjoy it.

– Surf the internet: Yes, this can be dangerous. Are there things you would like to do online but never get a chance? Use your self-care time to do what you want.  It is best to have specific goals in mind such as search out healthy recipes, keep up with friends on Facebook, etc. You know you will probably be online sooner or later so make sure you build in special time and not surf aimlessly.

– Other activities: crossword puzzle, Sudoku, drawing, origami (the art of paper folding), playing a musical instrument (even if it’s just one song a day), laughing, walking the dog, to name just a few.

  • Get the most from your self-care time.

However you choose to spend your time, recognize this as your self-care time. And, know how you want your self-care time to make you feel. Know if you want to feel energized, positive, joyful, reflective, relaxed and choose an activity that will help you get that feeling. Not recognizing your self-care time or not knowing what you want from your self-care time may leave you feeling like you’ve never taken time for yourself at all. And that, my friends, would be a real shame. Don’t waste your self-care time, recognize it and know how you want it to make your feel.


What’s your plan for making time to take care of you? Try out your plan this week then come back and tell us about your experience. Let your self-care time make you feel however you want!