Dealing with caregiving demands can be challenging, especially during the COVID-19 circuit breaker period when most people are required to stay home and limit physical contact. Having to juggle household chores, home-based learning for the children and working from home on top of caregiving duties can be overwhelming. The added responsibilities can also increase feelings of loneliness, worry and frustration. Self-care is a deliberate and intentional act to care for one’s own mental, physical and emotional health. Self-care is an active process that you have to create and plan for yourself. It is crucial to engage in self-care at every step of your caregiving journey to prevent burnout.
Here are some tips on self-care:
Practising self-compassion involves tending to your own feelings and emotions. Be aware of your limits and know when to pause for a break. Caring for yourself involves self-compassion. This means being kind and understanding to yourself instead of criticising or blaming yourself for not doing enough.
Do things that energise and excite you. Rekindle your interests and pick up hobbies that remind you of pleasant memories.
Take note of events and activities that make you feel refreshed. Make an active attempt to participate in more of such activities online. These are also opportunities to socialise and reach out for support.
LLearn about the services available
Explore the various schemes and services to help you in the care of your loved ones and familiarise yourself with the relevant ones.
Enquire about and apply for such assistance to better support yourself and your loved ones.
FPay-it-Forward to other caregivers
Join a caregivers support group! Share your experience with other caregivers. You can do this via online platforms, text messages or even informally. If you know someone whose loved one is undergoing a similar challenge, share and exchange knowledge and ‘tips’ if they are agreeable.
CCare for yourself first so you can better care for your loved ones
Ensure that your needs are met first. Give yourself a break and do not feel guilty about it. When caregiving seems to leave little time for anything else, the result is quite often burnout. To avoid this, self-care is key to maintaining your well-being.
AAsk for help
It is okay to get help from family and friends. Asking for help does not mean that you are unfit or an incompetent caregiver. We are all human and seeking help is not an indication of weakness. Create a schedule to assign caring duties and rope in a family member to buy groceries or care for your loved one while you engage in self-care activities.
RRespect your body and mind
- Listen to what your body is telling you. Seek medical attention if needed.
- Observe your sleeping patterns. Ensure you get sufficient rest for better clarity of thought.
- Be mindful of your inner voice and how you talk to yourself. Practise self-compassion.
- Maintain good eating habits and a balanced lifestyle.
While the COVID-19 situation can put more strain on caregivers, try to direct your attention to those aspects of caregiving that give you a sense of purpose. When you feel powerless or think you are losing control, ask yourself these questions: Why am I doing this and what does this mean for my loved one? How has my experience positively impacted my life? What have I learned about myself? What can I learn from this experience to help me become a better caregiver?
If you feel overwhelmed or burnt out, contact Caregivers Alliance Limited, West Cluster: 97207590 & 97707996, Central and North Cluster: 97298628 & 98267115, East Cluster: 97369170. (Weekdays 9am-6pm, excluding public holidays)
The contributor is a Programme Manager from the Caregiving & Community Mental Health Division at the Agency for Integrated Care.