If you’re caring for a loved one undergoing chemotherapy, 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:
Rise and shine
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!
Schedule yourself in
This may sound ridiculous, but make an appointment with yourself. Pencil some “me time” into 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!
Buy some time
How much is your time worth? Ask yourself this question, and evaluate if any services are worth outsourcing. For example, could paying for grocery delivery or a cleaning service save you time? Could you hire a neighborhood kid to help take out the garbage or mow the lawn?
Flex your “no” muscle
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.
Don’t assume that you have to do everything for your loved one undergoing chemotherapy. 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.
Streamline your day
Bills, laundry, dishes, cooking, doctor appointments, insurance companies, grocery shopping—with all of these duties, there must be some way to take shortcuts. Can you cook a little extra on Sunday and freeze the leftovers for later in the week? Can you set up automatic bill pay? Examine your daily activities, and see 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.