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Senior Planning

Caregivers Must Understand the Importance of Self-care

By A Place for Mom

Being a caregiver for a parent or senior loved one can be a full-time job, leaving little opportunity for anything else, including your own self-care. However, self-care is essential, benefitings not only you, but the loved one you are caring for as well.

Many people who find themselves in the role of caregiver experience feelings of guilt for wanting (and needing) time for themselves; however, the necessity for self-care is sometimes compared with that of applying your own oxygen mask on an airplane before assisting anyone else. Only when we first help ourselves can we effectively help others.

Self-care is an essential and necessary part of the process of providing care that benefits not only you but the person you are caring for as well. After all, you cannot pour from an empty cup.

While providing care can be very rewarding and satisfying, it can also be exhausting, with many caregivers reporting personal health issues including depression; excessive use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs; failure to exercise; failure to stay in bed when ill; poor eating habits; postponement of (or failure to make) medical appointments; and sleep deprivation.

“Self-care is an essential and necessary part of the process of providing care that benefits not only you but the person you are caring for as well. After all, you cannot pour from an empty cup.”

To combat these possible issues and live your best life possible while providing care for a loved one, consider adopting the following restorative practices for a healthy body, mind, and soul:


Eat a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is important, not just for your physical health, but your emotional health as well. In the short term, enjoying a diet of nutritious and well-balanced meals can help to increase energy and reduce sluggishness, while in the long-term, eating well can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.


Get Enough Sleep

Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your mental health and cause a ripple effect of negative emotions and thoughts. Your body needs seven to eight hours of restorative sleep each night for optimal health. Try implementing a predictable and regular bedtime routine to coax your body into a relaxing slumber, including limiting mobile devices or tablets two hours before bed; sleeping in a cool, dark room; and wearing comfortable pajamas.


Get Regular Exercise

Exercise promotes better sleep, reduces depression and tension, and increases alertness and energy. Although finding the motivation and time to exercise, especially in the beginning, may be a struggle, small steps will add up. Try walking for 20 minutes a day, three days a week to experience the full benefits of exercise.


Make Time for Hobbies

Taking a break from caregiving to reinvest in activities and hobbies you enjoy will help to reinvigorate you and remind you of who you are, outside of being a caregiver. Accepting help from family, friends, and professionals to reinvest in yourself may be difficult, but the reward of getting reacquainted with yourself and rediscovering what brings you happiness and peace will allow you to be the best caregiver you can be.



By Cristina Rivera, LICSW


The holidays can be a wonderful time of the year. For some, they mean seasonal gatherings and reconnecting with loved ones. For others, however, they can be emotionally and physically challenging, and this is especially true for many who are in recovery from substance use.

Having a plan for self-care and adhering to strategies that keep one healthy are key for all of us in enjoying the annual celebrations fall and winter bring.

I encourage people to not feel pressured to say “yes” to every obligation, whether that means attendance at a social function, family gathering, or work event. Individuals in recovery often know what environments will assist them in maintaining sobriety or allow the space to not use substances. Set boundaries and choose events that support your goals.

If you attend an event where substances may be easily accessible, prepare in advance. What’s your escape strategy if needed? Plan your arrival and departure, whom you will spend time with, and whom you will not. Having your own transportation allows you to leave if you are feeling uncomfortable. Having someone along to chat with helps if you are feeling the need for extra support.

If you opt out of an event, remember that you can still enjoy time with friends and loved ones. Plan to meet where you feel both comfortable and safe in maintaining your recovery goals.

The holidays may also bring feelings of loneliness as well as negative thoughts that could lead to using substances. I stress with my clients the importance of maintaining contact with people who support them in their recovery. This may be a mentor, therapist, friend, or fellow members of a support group — anyone in their life who is a positive influence and supports their sobriety. A supportive network can mean the difference between remaining substance-free or using a substance again.

It is possible to celebrate the holiday season and maintain your personal goals in recovery. Keeping to your routine and seeking support when needed are going to be very important. The gift of life is invaluable, and during the time of giving, the greatest gift to give yourself is decision making that maintains your recovery goals.


Cristina Rivera is director of Outpatient Services, Substance Use Disorders at MiraVista Behavioral Health Center in Holyoke.



By Michelle Desaulniers


Most everyone has been a passenger on an airplane and heard the safety talk. Very often, the ‘put your own mask on first before helping others’ analogy is used to remind people, in myriad situations, that it is OK — in fact, it is preferable — to practice self-care.

Most of us push self-care and everything that goes along with that notion to the bottom of our to-do list — and we just keep on flying. But what if, at the beginning of 2022, you decided to put yourself and your career first? Start this new year on a different note by taking a personal learning inventory.

At the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast (EANE), we are challenging our members to bring their personal development to the number-one position on their to-do list for 2022 by asking themselves these questions:

• How will you make next year count?

• What will you do to take your career to a new level?

• How will you challenge yourself in 2022?

What will it take to get you into a personal growth mindset? Start by thinking about the last time you took a class, attended a training session, or went to a conference. Remember that feeling of accomplishment, the renewed sense of purpose and engagement that you felt afterwards? It was great connecting with peers outside of your organization and sharing ideas, wasn’t it? Wouldn’t you like to feel that again and really get into that forward-thinking growth mindset?

EANE offers a variety of formal opportunities and options to refresh your attitude and to add substance to your learning inventory. The coming year should be punctuated with your own personal learning events that will enable you to return to your daily challenges feeling refreshed, re-energized, and ready to tackle those challenges with a new outlook and armed with freshly minted skills. Not only do you owe it to yourself, but you owe it to your co-workers. They will see your example, and they will follow it.

No doubt everyone is feeling the weight of the world lately, and no one wants to poke their head up for fear of flying objects. But allowing your professional growth to stagnate for yet another year is like putting someone else’s mask on before your own. On an airplane — and in your career — that could lead to disaster.


Michelle Desaulniers is a member of the Learning & Development team at EANE.