Caring for Yourself and Your Loved With Diabetes

Have you carved out any time for yourself this week? If you answered no, follow these tips.

By
Susan Amoruso
Reviewed by
Philip Levy, MD

If you’re caring for a loved one with diabetes, the idea of personal time—yes, for you!—may seem awfully elusive. With caregivers spending an average of 41 hours per week tending to their loved one’s needs (according to Evercare, an organization that provides caregiving support services), that doesn’t leave a whole lot of room just for you.

Yet carving out some “me time” will help you rejuvenate and relieve your stress. Here are some simple tricks to find the time you didn’t know you had:

Get the family involved
Don’t assume that you have to do everything for your loved one who has diabetes. Even if you’re the primary caregiver, you can enlist family members to share the load. Create a chore schedule, for example, so everyone can take shifts, giving you a little more personal time. Ask your son to take out the garbage or your daughter to take on dish duty a few times a week.

Set limits
Finding more time for yourself may be as simple as saying no. And if that’s too hard, just learn to say, “Let me think about it and get back to you.” You’re only one person, and saying yes to everyone means you’re spreading yourself too thin. The key is to strike a healthy balance between giving and receiving.

Pencil in “me time”
This may sound ridiculous, but make an appointment with yourself. Pencil some “me time” onto your calendar, or plug it into your smartphone. Whether you block out 15 minutes for a bubble bath or an hour for a fitness class, regard this designated time slot like any other appointment; don’t schedule conflicting activities, and don’t be late!

Make the most of mornings
Try setting your alarm just 10 to 15 minutes earlier than usual, and use the extra time to do something just for you. Make a healthy breakfast, read the paper, take a long shower, meditate—whatever you choose, pick a routine that lets you ease into the day your way!

Get efficient
Bills, laundry, dishes, meal prep, doctor appointments, insurance companies, grocery shopping—with all of these duties, there must be some way to take shortcuts. Can you set up automatic bill pay? Can you cook a little extra and freeze the leftovers for later in the week? Examine your daily activities and determine what you could be doing more efficiently.

If you’re not sure about a task, ask yourself two questions: “What will happen if I don’t do it?” and “Can someone else do it for me?” The answers will help guide you in finding some moments for yourself. 

Hire some help
How much is your time worth? Ask yourself that question, and determine whether any services are worth outsourcing. For example, could you hire a neighborhood teenager to mow the lawn or take out the garbage? Will paying for grocery delivery or a cleaning service save you time?

Published
April 2013