In focusing their energy and attention on taking care of a spouse or family member with cancer, those providing their loved one with care often fail to look after their own health needs. Battling cancer can be an exhausting and frustrating fight.
The daily struggle against cancer is both physically draining and mentally exhausting for both the cancer patient and family caregivers. Caregivers often feel it is selfish to take time to address their own needs, but family caregivers must take care of themselves in order to care effectively for a loved one with cancer.
To prevent burnout and maintain the energy needed to support the cancer patient, family caregivers must see to their own health needs. The 24/7 nature of cancer care means that family and friends must step up to support cancer caregivers and be willing to step in and provide caregivers with regular breaks for rest, relaxation and recreation away from their care giving duties.
If you’re a caregiver or a member of a cancer patient’s support community, consider these tips for caring for cancer caregivers:
- Get regular exercise.
- Practice good nutrition.
- Manage stress with deep breathing exercises, yoga or mind-body techniques.
- Plan fun things to look forward to during care giving breaks.
- Spend time with friends doing things you enjoy.
- Prepare yourself for what’s to come by educating yourself about cancer, cancer care and cancer treatments.
- Join online caregiver support groups.
- Look beyond your family and friends for additional support. Many community groups, churches and healthcare agencies offer support groups, direct aid and/or resources for cancer patients.