Four Steps to Self-Care During the Pandemic

Valerie Henderson

Written by Valerie Henderson on Wed Dec 02 2020.

Four Steps to Self-Care During the Pandemic

COVID-19 takes a particularly taxing toll on caregivers, so it’s more important than ever for you to practice self-care. Not only are you worried about your loved one’s health, but you might be stressed about maintaining your own well-being so you can be healthy for the people who need you most. Unfortunately, this kind of stress leads to a weakened immune system, which leads to increased susceptibility, and so on. It’s a classic chicken-and-egg scenario.

Carewell is here for you, and we’d like to share four ways to help yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally so you can more effectively help others.

1. Build out the band. 

No one person should have to handle the burden of caregiving on their own, but if you are isolating to keep your loved one safe, you are doing just that. Instead of playing as a solo act, allow family members and friends to pitch in from a safe distance in some creative ways:

  1. Ask adults to visit your loved one virtually to provide entertainment and emotional support; remind them to focus on positive, uplifting topics

  2. Encourage the youngest family members to virtually read a story, sing a song, or hold up a piece of art they’ve created for their grandparent or other loved one

  3. Reach out to siblings and friends for help with meal delivery, grocery orders, and bill paying—caregiving takes a village

Form a research support crew. If you're new to caregiving, you'll quickly realize there are a million things to learn. Use this time to catch up on Carewell’s collection of educational content and discover new ways to help your loved one thrive.  Instead of spending hours online researching the merits of adult pull-ups versus adult diapers with tabs, ask friends to devote 30 minutes to the task so you can focus on your loved one while they focus on Googling reviews.

2. Review your plan. 

For your own peace of mind, it’s important to make an alternate plan in the event that you get sick. Have one, or possibly multiple, backup caregivers ready to help if you fall ill. If you already have a family caregiving plan in place, review it to make sure everyone is on the same page. Don’t assume other family members will agree on what should happen if your loved one gets sick.

If you don’t have a plan in place, now is the time to make one. There are plenty of templates and resources out there, but we like this simple one available on the CDC’s website. Don’t wait for a crisis to take action—hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.

3. Distract yourself. 

Family caregivers have a much higher than normal risk of anger, depression, and substance abuse, so it’s critical to find interests that are healthy and enjoyable if you need to isolate with your loved one to keep them healthy. The following activities can help you get out of your head for a little while, even if the only travel you do is through a computer screen:

  1. Avoid constantly watching news stories and scanning social media. Instead, focus on moving your body or learning something helpful.

  2. Take a few deep breaths every hour to center your body and mind. 

  3. Eat well-balanced meals.

  4. Take naps and catch up on needed sleep.

  5. Tour museums, scientific research centers, and even iconic movie locations through their websites or videos posted on YouTube.

4. Acknowledge and validate your emotions. 

It’s OK to feel down right now. Continuous caregiving can be stressful and requires emotional outlets and support that you might not be getting.

Seek comfort in new ways. Reach out to friends in similar situations to set up daily or even weekly Zoom calls, or join an online support group. A vast majority of these groups operate primarily through Facebook, such as Memory People and the Dementia Caregivers Support Group. They’re private, so you can post questions and concerns, or simply vent without fear of others seeing. Connecting with other people in the same situation can be a great daily reminder that even in isolation, you’re not alone.

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Valerie Henderson
Valerie Henderson

Having written for companies ranging from MTV to the Olympics, Valerie Henderson spearheads Carewell's communications and PR efforts. A resident of Park City, Utah, Valerie enjoys four of the things her region is famous for: hiking, independent film, a house full of kids, and weak beer.