Being supportive and providing care for a family member or friend going through cancer can be difficult on the ones closest to them. Being a caregiver can take a physical and emotional toll. So it is important to take time for yourself. The better you can take care of yourself, the better care you can take of your loved one.
Caregivers need care, too.
Tips for taking care of yourself:
Stay Relaxed: Try to take at least 15 to 30 minutes each day to do something just for you. Whether it is taking a nap, watching TV, finishing that puzzle you have not had time for, or anything else that you find relaxing.
Stay Active: Doing simple exercises can improve your physical health and your mental health, too. Stretching, yoga, and going on walks can help to keep you healthy.
Always consult your healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise regimen.
Stay Social: Do not forget to stay connected to your family and friends. Cutting back on certain social activities does not have to mean cutting them out entirely. Remaining socially active is a healthy practice.
Stay Positive: Feeling a wide range of emotions is normal. At times, you may feel guilty for being frustrated or feel hopeless or helpless, but remember these feelings are normal. Think about keeping a journal to help you express your feelings and work through these difficult emotions. To help you stay positive, remember to take it one day at a time, accept your limitations, share the responsibility, set short-term achievable goals, and do activities you enjoy.
If you are having a hard time staying positive, confide in someone who is a part of your support system or consider talking to a healthcare professional. It is important to have a safe place to express negative emotions and discuss any fears you may have.
Stay Prepared: When talking with the care team, ask all of your questions and make sure they are answered in a way that you understand. It is also important to learn as much as you can. Building your knowledge can help you feel more in control of the situation, help you feel less stressed, and make you feel more confident when making treatment decisions with your loved one.
Ask for Help. Sometimes asking for help can feel uncomfortable, but allowing yourself to accept outside aid is important. It does not have to be for difficult tasks. Activities such as setting up appointments or help running errands can relieve stress.
Research has shown that mindfulness meditation may help caregivers by fostering acceptance and by creating a comfortable acknowledgment of stressors. Below are some basic steps to help you get started in your meditation practice.
Anywhere you can remain stable and feel calm.
If you are a beginner, it is best to set a time limit of 5 to 10 minutes.
Breathe in and out, and simply notice the sensations in your body.
Your mind may wander, and that is OK, but acknowledge it.
When you are ready to end your meditation, take time to slowly bring yourself back into the environment.
For spouses, friends, or family, caring for loved ones with cancer, it is also important for them to find support and resources. Learn more about your important role as a caregiver by visiting the websites of the advocacy organizations below.
The organizations listed above are independent nonprofit organizations. Their inclusion here does not imply endorsement of LIBTAYO or Regeneron.