Put Yourself First

When you care for a loved one, it is normal to experience emotional and physical stress. Recognizing this stress in a nonjudgmental way and taking small steps to combat it can help you provide better care to your loved one. Following are three tips to help you keep your mind and body healthy.

1. Let go of guilt

It is natural to feel guilty for taking time for yourself when your loved one needs so much. Try to remember why airlines instruct passengers to put their own oxygen masks on before helping others. The reason is simple: You cannot care for someone else when you are depleted. It is important to acknowledge guilty feelings and find a safe place to share them, but do not allow them to stop you from caring for yourself.

2. Build in fun

Create a list of activities that make you happy. Playing your favorite song, taking a bubble bath, or going for a walk are just some of the possibilities.

3. Relax

Simple breathing exercises, guided imagery, meditation, and proper sleep habits can alleviate some of the pressure. You can download apps like Headspace and Calm to help guide you in relaxation practice.

This article was adapted from information provided by Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

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