Being a caregiver for someone with epilepsy is incredibly rewarding. However, it is also stressful – a recent survey found that 53% of epilepsy carers experienced anxiety and 31% have had insomnia. So, it’s important to not forget about taking care of yourself too.
When you are caring for someone with epilepsy, you may spend a lot of time thinking about their medication, recording seizures and watching out for triggers. But it’s also important to watch out for your own health and wellness. This will mean you avoid burnout and can keep providing the best treatment as you take care of your loved ones.
5 health and wellness tips for epilepsy carers
‘Caregiver burden’ is a term which describes how carers experience emotional, social, and financial difficulties when looking after others, and it is a common experience for epilepsy carers.
Here are five ways of taking care of yourself to ensure you don’t burn out.
1. Monitor your own health and wellness
When you are caring for others, it’s important to watch out for your own mental and physical health too. Warning signs that you are becoming overly stressed include:
- Feeling tired all the time
- Struggling to sleep (aim for 8 hours per night)
- Noticing you get sick more than normal
- Feeling more irritable than usual
- Spending less time with friends and family
If you notice these kinds of things happening, draw up a plan that includes your own needs and boundaries to ensure they get looked after too.
2. Take time out for yourself
Do you feel like you spend your whole time taking care of your loved ones? While that is admirable, it is also important to take time to ‘recharge your batteries’. If possible, set aside at least one afternoon per week where you spend time on your own (or with friends/family) where you can relax. This will give you much more energy for the rest of the week.
3. Asking for help
There is nothing wrong with asking for help – most people will be more than happy to give you a hand. Ask your spouse, a family member or friends to help out with things like grocery shopping or looking after your loved one for a couple of hours if you’re struggling.
4. Join the community
There is a very friendly community around epilepsy. Ask your hospital for details of any local epilepsy carer support groups or join one of the huge online communities on social media platforms like Facebook.
5. Exercise and nutrition
Exercise and a healthy diet are useful methods for managing stress, staying healthy and sleeping well. If you can, try and set aside 30 minutes every day for some form of exercise (things like running, yoga, meditation or even a walk around the block). Similarly, eating healthy, fresh and nutritious foods can energize you and make you feel more balanced.
Taking care of yourself is so important when you are caring for someone with epilepsy. It can give you more energy, help you stay motivated and ensure you avoid burnout. By taking the time for your own health and wellness, you will also be able to care for your loved one more effectively too.