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Life in Motion

How to Care for Yourself While Caring for Others

Health & Prevention

With the number of joint replacement surgeries on the rise, many of us are finding ourselves in the position of being a care partner. Care partners play an important role in helping a family member or friend, both physically and emotionally, throughout the surgery and recovery process.

Being a care partner can be very rewarding, but it also can be very stressful.  Kenneth A. Larsen, Clinical Psychologist in the Department of Medicine at NEBH explains that as a care partner, it’s important to recognize when your emotions and stress are getting the best of you. Times when you feel overwhelmed, frustrated, or exhausted are the times when you need to take a break and find some time for yourself. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Make an effort to stay connected with family and friends who set you at ease. Set aside time to go have a cup of coffee or take a walk with family or friends.
  • Rehydrate your body and calm down – drink calming herbal tea, which is a great way to take a break.
  • Remember to breathe – nice deep belly breaths trigger the relaxation response and restores energy.
  • Release tension with exercise – taking a break for a walk around your neighborhood or a local mall can help clear your mind and release endorphins which are known to help produce positive feelings.
  • Get enough sleep – high levels of stress can make it difficult for people to sleep, so making sure you stay in a good sleep routine is important. It also allows our brains to recharge and bodies to rest.
  • Maintain a healthy diet – fueling yourself with the right nutrients will give you the energy you need to take care of others.
  • Ask for help – sometimes we make a commitment to care for another and then realize it is more than we can handle. Don’t be shy. Ask a friend or family member to assist you. Maybe they can help with cooking, laundry or walking the dog while you are taking care of the patient.

The role of a care partner can be challenging and requires a significant time commitment, but it is sure to be a meaningful experience helping your loved one regain strength and return to enjoying daily activities.

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