Self-Care for Caregivers During the COVID-19 Crisis

April 8, 2020

Self-Care for Caregivers During the COVID-19 Crisis

Individuals with developmental disabilities tend to benefit from the structure and support typically provided by day programs, hired caregivers, and/or family members and friends. These individuals often need regular, hands-on care, which is physically and mentally exhausting in the best of times.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis means many families and caregivers are left to tend to their loved ones at home, with no outside support or respite. This is why it’s more important than ever that, if you are such a caregiver, you make the time and effort to practice self-care. Remember that you cannot properly care for others unless you first care for yourself. Here are some ideas that may help you cope and care for yourself during this challenging time:

  1. Reach out: You may not have the option to receive hands-on help, but that doesn’t mean you need to be completely shut out from the world. Get creative with technology. Your loved one might enjoy “visiting” with a family member or friend via FaceTime or Skype, during which time you can take a much-needed break. Perhaps a friend can read your loved one a book, or a distant family member can teach your loved one a new song.

Of course, you should also take the opportunity to call friends and family yourself. Vent your frustrations, cry, laugh, reminisce, or discuss plans to get together when this is all over. Too tired to talk? Turn on the television, dial up a friend, and simply sit together and enjoy a funny movie or TV show.

  1. Ask for help: While you may not be able to run errands, chances are, your neighbors and nearby friends are still popping out to the stores at least once a week. Ask them to do your grocery shopping or pick up some crafting supplies or a puzzle from Walmart (if they’re already heading there). This way, you and your loved one will stay well stocked with food AND you’ll have a new activity to enjoy.

    For many people, asking for help doesn’t come easily, but right now, it’s so important to reach out. Many people are feeling frustrated and helpless and would jump at any opportunity to assist a friend in need. So, please, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for assistance.

  2. Let things slide: Now is the time to let things go. Leave the dishes in the sink until morning, let another day or two go before dusting or vacuuming, and spend the day in your PJs to keep laundry to a minimum. We promise, no one will be the wiser! Other ways to cut back on your workload include using paper plates and plastic utensils to eat your meals as well as taking advantage of a meal-delivery service. Allow your loved one extra TV, computer, or iPad time to give yourself some breathing room.
  3. Get out: Just because we are confined to our homes doesn’t mean we can’t go outside! Head out to your yard or patio with your loved one. Simply sit and enjoy the sunshine, read a book together, draw pictures, or do a craft. Get your hands dirty by pulling weeds, picking up sticks, or planting flowers and bulbs. Look for four-leafed clovers. Lie on a blanket and look up at the clouds. Tell your loved one what you see and encourage him or her to do the same. Look at the birds and see how many different species you can find.


  1. Take Care of Yourself: It’s essential that you get adequate rest, eat a well-balanced diet, and get some sort of exercise a few times a week. There’s no need for fancy workout equipment—a few body-weight-based floor exercises or a walk around the neighborhood will do the trick.

That said, be sure to allow yourself a treat every now and then, too! Enjoy a bowl of ice cream, a silly tv show, or a light-hearted book. Do some online shopping or plan a weekend getaway for later this year. Buy the supplies for a new hobby you’ve been meaning to try out. Another great, free, anytime activity? Meditation! You can download a free app or google “how to meditate” for easy beginner tips! With tons of proven benefits, meditation is one of the single best ways you can care for yourself right now.

It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of the coronavirus crisis. But truly, if you are washing your hands, practicing social distancing, and taking good care of yourself and your loved one(s), you are doing everything possible to stay well! Do your best to control the things you can and let go of the things you can’t. Turn off the news, stay off the internet, and try to focus on the positives of this very extraordinary time: the ability to slow down, enjoy your loved ones, turn your attention inward, and do something for YOU. Hang in there and please reach out to us here at SCARC if we can help in any way.