Caregivers: Taking Care of Yourself

Model Healthy Coping Skills

Accept Help

Flight attendants instruct parent passengers to put oxygen masks on themselves before they assist children in a crisis situation. These are wise instructions. The best way parents can help children is by first practicing and modeling healthy coping skills themselves.

Take Time To Grieve 

Take time at different points to grieve by yourself or away from your children. Be honest with your children about your need to have a “time out” or time to let out sad feelings. Explain to them that this is a normal part of grief, and that this is helping you to get through this hard time. 

Release Strong Emotions 

Use different tools to help you release the strong emotions you feel. Find out which work the best for you. 
Some ideas include:  

Praying, Crying, Talking, Journaling, Exercising, Drawing, Laughing, Playing, Looking at pictures/videos, Listening to music
Often, when people are grieving, friends and relatives will say, “Let me know how I can help.” But if you are feeling overwhelmed with grief, it’s hard to know how to respond. Below is a list you can show to someone who has offered to help.
Some examples:

• Give me a hug
• Pray with me
• Help me pick out what to wear to the visitation/funeral
• Do a load of laundry
• Cook a meal
• Create a meal schedule
• Take kids for a playdate/break
• Take care of our pet(s) by going on a walk, feeding, etc.
• Go with me to meet with the funeral home
• Clean/tidy the house
• Shop for/pick up needed items
• Sit with me when I am on the phone with the insurance company
• Help me with a financial/ organizational issue

Caregivers: Taking Care of Yourself

Coping Checklist

Caring for someone who is sick, having new responsibilities, and worrying about the future can be exhausting at the very least – and can quickly lead to burnout. When you are busy caring for the person with a life-threatening illness, who is taking care of you? Check out these lists to identify strengths and weaknesses you can build on or improve.
Healthy ways to cope. Take a moment to look at the statements below, which describe some healthy situations and ways of coping. They will give you an idea of how well you are holding up, and maybe some thoughts about where you need to make a few changes to take better care of yourself. The more of these statements you can agree with, the better. If you do not already have or do all of these, look at ways you can start working toward those that appeal to you. They can help you expand and strengthen your coping skills. 
• I have a supportive community around me.
• I pursue a hobby or project for work, church, or my community.
• I take part in a social or activity group more than once a month.
• I am within 10 pounds of my ideal body weight for my height and bone structure.
• I use relaxation methods such as meditation, yoga, or progressive muscle relaxation at least 5 times a week.
• During an average week I get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise (such as walking or yoga) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (such as jogging or basketball). 
• I eat a well-balanced, wholesome meal 2 or 3 times during an average day. (A balanced meal is low in fat and high in vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain foods.)
• I do something enjoyable “just for me” at least once during an average week.
• I have a place where I can go to relax or be by myself.
• I set priorities and manage my time every day (such as deciding what tasks are most important, how much I can and can’t do, and getting help when needed). 
It can be hard to find the time to do all these things, but they can help a lot in keeping some balance in your life during this very stressful time. If your schedule is too crowded, ask for help.

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