Being a Caregiver

Ten Emotional Survival Skills

Let’s start with a few strategies to help with the emotional demands during the crisis period. That’s the extremely stressful time when your family member is in the ICU or starting rehabilitation.

  1. Take care of yourself – Make this a priority from the beginning. Even small ways of nurturing and protecting yourself count.
  2. Let others help you and your family. No one can do this alone.
  3. Practice relaxed breathing several times a day for ten minutes. Calming your body a bit can help calm your mind.
  4. Hold on to hope – Brain injury recovery is a roller coaster ride. Hope can be the red car with a wide safety belt that holds you in place as you zoom up and down the hills.
  5. Share your feelings – Talk to a friend or staff member. Ask questions. Write in a journal. Join an online community to talk with other caregivers.
  6. Allow distractions – Watch a funny TV show, read a magazine, or play a video game. Distraction lets your mind relax and recharge.
  7. Seek a quiet spot – The noise and commotion of the ICU double your stress. The chapel is welcoming, even if you’re not religious. Sit quietly. Take deep breaths. Close your eyes.
  8. Think in ways that support clarity and calm – Focus on this moment, this day. Try to keep your expectations and “What if…” thoughts in line. Try to take in what the staff is telling you. Recovery can’t be rushed. Every little step counts.
  9. Sleep whenever you can.
  10. Tend to your body – Eat nourishing food. Stand up and stretch. Take a walk.

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