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Caregivers: Here Are 5 Quick Ways to Care for Yourself

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Let’s face it – being a caregiver is one of the toughest jobs many of us will ever do. Whether it’s in short bursts or full time, if you’re caring for an aging parent or loved one, there are just some days when you feel spent and exhausted. Then sometimes you feel guilty because you’re at the end of your emotional resources.

If this describes you, let us recommend a helpful website, – filled with resources for caregivers of all varieties. Recently we ran across an excellent article on this website that lists five things an exhausted you as a caregiver can do to restore your energy (and perhaps your sanity). It’s called “Five 10-minute Pick-me-ups for Caregiver Stress,” and you can access it by clicking here. We think this is an article you’ll want to print and save, and probably share.

As the article says, sometimes caregivers just have “one of those days” – and when that happens the best antidote is to “treat yourself well, even in small doses.” These tips don’t require much time or any money – just a bit of imagination and forethought.

The first tip the writer suggests is to read something funny – because laughter has been shown to be one of the best ways to lower blood pressure, slow your heart rate and even boost your immune system. (Watching a funny clip or two on YouTube could have the same effect.) Never underestimate the power of a belly laugh! Humor can also distract you from the frustration of your circumstances.

The second idea appeals to us music lovers. If you enjoy music, don’t just listen to it – when you’re feeling stressed, turn it up. Good loud music is a terrific kick-starter to your energy level. It doesn’t matter if it’s rock, country or classical. (If you’re a religious person, praise music can help redirect your thoughts.) Let the music fill the room!

The third and fourth ideas may seem like opposites, but both can help restore your energy and spirits. Idea #3 is to take a short “power nap” – even for just ten minutes. Some quick shut-eye has great power to refresh you, and by keeping it brief you don’t allow your body to fall into the kind of deep sleep that takes longer to recover from. The 4th (and opposite) idea is exercise – just about any form that involves moving, stretching, deep breathing and lifting. (One tip: buy an inexpensive set of lightweight dumbbells and get those arms moving.) You’ll be amazed at how quickly your energy returns with a little exertion.

The final suggestion may seem surprising: if you’re feeling angry or resentful, write a letter to yourself, or even to your loved one. Go ahead and put down on paper (or in an email) everything you’re feeling, things that make you angry or disappointed, or whatever else is on your heart. As the article says, “The act of putting your true emotions down on paper (or in an e-mail you don’t send) helps your body release them, just the way you feel better after confiding in a friend.” Then make certain you tear up your letter or delete your email when you’re done. You’ll breathe a sigh of relief.

Here at Aging Options we remind our clients repeatedly that aging is a family affair. One of the best ways to avoid becoming a burden to your loved ones is to let them in on your retirement plans from the very beginning, and keep them informed along the way. This helps minimize unfortunate surprises. If you would like to learn more about how to make sure your family is fully informed about your retirement plans, we invite you to attend one of our free LifePlanning seminars where we discuss all aspects of retirement: your family, your finances, your health, your legal concerns and your housing choices. Click on the Upcoming Events tab for more details.

(Originally reported at



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