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How to take care of yourself when caring for a sick loved one.

Caring for a loved one who is sick can be taxing on one’s mental health. The constant need to meet your loved ones needs all while neglecting your own needs may lead to stress, fatigue or more. Here are a few tips to better manage your mental health when caring for a sick loved one:

1. Speak up. Share your thoughts, feelings and needs with your support system. Don’t expect friends and family members to automatically know what you need or how you’re feeling.

2. Spread the responsibility. It’s easy to bear the burden alone; however, you cannot do it all. Try to get as many family members involved as possible to help as needed.

3. Set up a regular check-in. Ask a family member, friend, or volunteer from your church, etc. to call you on a set basis (every day, weekly, or how ever often you think you need it) to check in and see how you are doing.

4. Say “yes” when someone offers to help you. Don’t be shy about accepting help. Let them feel good about supporting you.

5. Be willing to relinquish some control. Know that not everything will go as planned. Prepare for setbacks and have a plan A, plan B, plan C prepared.

6. BE YOUR OWN BEST CAREGIVER -make yourself a priority and take care of yourself first! Try one or all the coping skills listed here: exercise, read positive literature, meditate, take a break, spend time with those who are kind to you, eat/sleep well, muscle relaxation/deep breathing, talk to a professional, get a massage, repeat positive affirmations, join a support group or take a nap.

Tracy Cooper is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Co-Owner of Fit Therapy of Texas. She has her Bachelors of Art in Psychology from the University of Texas at San Antonio and Master's in Clinical and Mental Health Counseling from St. Mary's University.

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