How Can Caregivers Take Care of Themselves?

December 19, 2019
Dr. G. Balamurali

Being a renowned rehabilitation center in Chennai, we have personally seen the toll on caregivers. So, today, we take the time to list a few ways that caregivers can use to take care of themselves instead of their loved ones. Remember, in the quest to do the best for others; you need to do what is best for yourself too! As a practicing neuro specialist in Chennai, India, let me share my insights on how you can take care of yourself.

Take a break

A caregiver should take out 30 minutes every day to do nothing. Simply find a quiet place that calms you and free your mind of all thoughts. The place can be a room or outside. Studies prove that even a short period of calming your body and mind boosts happiness because it reduces stress. If possible, also find the time to do one enjoyable activity outside your responsibilities. Taking a few days off or resting at home while someone else takes responsibility is perfectly fine.

Get more help

Taking care of someone day in and day out takes its toll. Ask for help from others. It could be friends, family, or a trained professional from a rehab centre. But when you feel it is getting too much, seek assistance. Remember to keep these people in a close loop so that they can offer aid when necessary.

Find a support group

It cannot be said enough that talking helps. Caregivers go through the wringer every day, particularly if they are taking care of a spouse. And talking about your feelings helps a ton. So, don’t suppress your emotions. That way leads to burnouts and outbursts. At HAMSA, we have a patient support community. This group will lend you an ear and hear your venting. Plus, in case of an emergency, the group can be useful.

Explore coping methods.

Taking care of a person is a lot. Without coping strategies, you will burn out faster. So, explore what you like and work. Then participate in it. Meditation and yoga are the two most popular methods.

Set realistic limits.

The biggest mistake caregivers make is never saying no. Your body and mind have limits to what it can do. Create limits. Once you reach them, ask for help. Better yet hire help so that you can take out time for yourself, even if it is just for a short walk in the morning. That is sufficient to lift your mood and make you a better caregiver.

Avoid guilt.

You cannot be available 24/7 to do a carer job. You may have other responsibilities like kids, siblings, parents or others to take care of. You may have a part-time job to meet your financial needs. Don’t feel guilty to do them and divert your body and mind.

Taking care of a patient with Head Injury, Stroke or Neurological ailment of chronic nature or an individual recovering from a significant surgery means difficult times. There will be days that the outlook is bleak. It is to power through those times that these steps are important. When you take care of yourself, the chances of depression, insomnia, and other issues lessen.

Never undermine your needs. They are vital too. And lastly, remember to laugh a few times. It will not only make you feel lighter but also the person you are taking care of!

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Internationally trained Spinal Neurosurgeon with 24 years of surgical experience, from UK. Extensively trained in all niche aspects of spinal surgery as part of 3-year fellowship in the UK (Liverpool & Nottingham), USA (San Francisco & Chicago) and Switzerland (Zurich). Senior Spine and Neurosurgeon in India since 2011.
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About Dr. G. Balamurali
Head of Spine Surgery
Consultant Spine and Neurosurgeon
MBBS, MRCS (Ed), MD (UK), FRCS (Surgical Neurology)
Fellow in Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery - UK, USA, Switzerland
Fellow in Complex Spine Surgery – UK, Switzerland
Know my journey




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