Everyone’s focused on the patient diagnosed with cancer. How’s the caregiver doing?

Caregivers often forego their own activities ranging from dental appointments to church, gym or other social outlets. That may backfire.

The caregiver who doesn’t ask others for help is likely to stress out, and burn out. Follow flight attendant advice: put your own oxygen mask on first, then help those around you. If you don’t take care of yourself first, you run the risk of endangering those you intend to help. If you’re overwhelmed, exhausted, or freaked out, you’re not much help—and now there are two people needing help.

Three ways to put on your “caretaker oxygen mask”:

  •  Connect with people who can support you, such as family, friends, and support organizations or groups for caretakers.
  •  Keep a list of help needed, and a list of people who’ve offered help.
  •  Eat. Drink. Be Merry. Eat consciously. Be aware of what you’re eating, especially if you seek food for comfort. Drink for hydration—not numbing or escape. If you need some flavor in your water, add a squeeze of lemon, a few slices of cucumber, or add a tiny bit of fruit juice. Be Merry. This isn’t about denial. It’s about finding good even in a rough situation. Focus on what’s working for you and the person diagnosed.

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