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Dr. Ifeanyi Olele, a board certified psychiatrist. He is the CEO and co-founder of Genesis Psychiatric Solutions, serving patients in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, and he also treats patients virtually in California and Florida. Here he recommends 10 questions to ask yourself for better mental health if you’re a caregiver.

Caring for an aging parent or a disabled family member or friend can be both rewarding and challenging.

If you find yourself helping a family member or elder manage their health, you’re a caregiver. This article provides introspective questions designed to help you evaluate and improve your own mental health and well-being across eight dimensions of wellness:

  • physical
  • emotional
  • spiritual
  • intellectual
  • social
  • environmental
  • financial
  • occupational

Each question to ask yourself is followed by an explanation and practical tips to help you prioritize your own health and well-being alongside your caregiving responsibilities.

Physical wellness is being aware of your body and what it requires for health. This includes maintaining a healthy diet, exercising frequently, and getting enough sleep — all often overlooked while caregiving.

How am I keeping my physical health in check while caring for others?

Check in with yourself. Are you currently meeting your physical health needs?

It’s common for caregivers to have less ability to care for their own physical health due to the focus and attention they put toward their loved one.

Yet helping yourself stay physically well can help you show up better for your loved one. For example, staying physically active can improve energy levels and reduce stress.


  • Encourage healthy eating habits. Keep track of what you’re eating, since when people are stressed, they tend to under- or overeat, also known as comfort eating.
  • To promote physical health, choose exercises that work well with your lifestyle and time, such as yoga, lifting weights, or walking.
  • Make time for medical check-ups with your primary care doctor to monitor your physical changes based on the current stressors in your life.
  • Schedule time for massages to address the physical tension that may come from stress.
  • Set a regular bedtime and wake-up routine so your sleep schedule is consistent.
  • Monitor your libido (sex drive) because that can decrease with increased stressors. Spending romantic time with a partner can help with this.

Emotional wellness is the ability to understand, accept, and be aware of your emotions.

How can I deal with stress and overwhelming emotions as a caregiver?

Emotional wellness involves managing stress, loss, and other difficult feelings. One way to lessen mental strain is to recognize your emotional triggers.


  • Practice self-care routines such as exercise or meditation or seek support from trusted friends, family, or mental health professionals.
  • Stay connected with loved ones and build healthy social relationships.
  • Consider scheduling an appointment with a therapist or psychiatrist to discuss the emotional concerns that you’re dealing with as a caregiver. This will provide a safe space for you to explore your feelings and create solutions to your problems.
  • Practice journaling your emotions during this period so your emotions and negative thoughts do not build up.
  • Keep a gratitude journal or set aside time to thank supportive friends and family.
  • Join caregiving support groups so you do not feel alone, and you can gain resources about being a caregiver.
  • To reduce the stressful burden of being a caretaker, consider respite and home health services.
  • Try breathing exercises during moments when you feel overwhelmed.

How can I engage my family and friends in my caregiving routine without feeling burdened?

Delegating some caregiving responsibilities to others can provide you critical rest and relief you need to sustain your emotional well-being. It can also help you feel supported and less alone.


  • Create a task list for friends and family. Offer specific, manageable ways they can contribute, like going grocery shopping, driving your loved one to appointments, or just being present with them while you take some time away.

How should I respond to others’ well-intended but occasionally ineffective advice or comments regarding caregiving?

Learning to respond gracefully to comments like these promotes emotional well-being while establishing positive relationships.


  • Politely acknowledge their concern but set boundaries about unsolicited advice.

Tending to your own spiritual needs is important, whatever they may be.

How can I add activities that support my spirituality or purpose into my daily caregiving work?

Finding significance and purpose in your work is a key component of spiritual wellness. This can promote resilience and serenity during trying times as a caregiver.


  • Incorporate introspection, prayer, meditation, or walks outdoors to bring your beliefs and purpose into harmony.
  • If you practice a religion, stay connected with your faith community. You can do this by attending worship services, joining small groups at your faith center, or spending time studying the book of your religion to find passages that can provide guidance.
  • If you’re not religious, consider meditation as a tool to support spiritual wellness. It can help you connect with the present moment, develop inner peace, and become more self-aware.
  • Volunteer in community programs. Serving your community can provide a sense of spiritual wellness by creating moments of fulfillment and a larger purpose.

Intellectual wellness is the continuous development of the mind.

How often do I do mentally stimulating activities to keep my mind active and up to date?

Staying curious can refresh mental energy and offer a welcome distraction.


  • Dedicate time to reading, puzzles, creative writing, or educational courses.
  • During your time as a caregiver, do stimulating activities such as learning a new language or how to play an instrument.
  • Consider taking short vacations during your time as a caregiver. Travel to a new place and learn about the city through tours and visiting museums.
  • Pick up a new hobby that you and the person you’re caring for can enjoy together to help reduce the stress and tension of your caregiving relationship.
  • Combine activities such as listening to a podcast while walking. Or practice mindfulness while completing household chores.

Social wellness involves maintaining healthy, supportive, and fulfilling relationships and interactions with others in your life.

What effects does caregiving have on my relationships and social support networks?

As a caregiver, your time is mainly focused on the person you’re taking care of, and that may limit your time connecting with your network.

The stress and time spent with them can also make you feel isolated because most people may not understand your current situation.


  • Attend social events (virtually or in person) and actively communicate with friends and family.
  • Schedule regular activities with your friends because it will give you a break from the stressors of being a caregiver.
  • Reconnect with friends that you have not spoken to in a while.
  • Connect with support groups online and video chat with friends.
  • Arrange quick get-togethers like gaming, going out to eat, or seeing a movie.

Environmental wellness means having a living and working environment that supports your health and well-being.

Does my caregiving environment create a sense of security and comfort, and are there ways I can make it healthier?

An organized and positive environment can reduce stress and promote a sense of calm. Think about what changes you could make in your surroundings that might help make life easier and put you more at ease.


  • Maintain a neat environment, good lighting, and places that will help you relax during breaks.
  • Declutter the home space so you don’t feel trapped in the house.
  • If you do not have the bandwidth to keep your home clean due to your busy schedule as a caregiver, consider hiring a cleaning service to help with these tasks, if you can.
  • Think about repainting your home interior with calming colors.
  • Consider aromatherapy in the house to stimulate and soothe your senses.
  • Have plants around the house, which can create a tranquil environment.

Financial wellness means understanding caregiving-related costs and managing them proactively.

How is caregiving affecting my financial stability and what budgeting strategies can I put in place to manage expenses?

Here are a few practical ways to manage budgeting and expenses while in a caregiving role.


  • Review healthcare benefits, explore financial aid programs, and create a budget for caregiving expenses.
  • Speak with a financial advisor who may have expertise in working with caregivers.
  • Speak with your accountant to see if there are tax benefits to being a caregiver.

Occupational wellness focuses on achieving professional fulfillment while managing caregiving obligations.

How has providing care affected my career?

Consider what changes you could make to balance your employment and caring responsibilities better.


  • Discuss flexible work arrangements with employers or seek alternative roles that better align with caregiving demands.
  • Speak to your human resource department about FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act). This can help by giving you protected time to take your loved one to appointments or be available to support them when they may have flare-ups due to their condition.
  • Discuss with your supervisor about your additional responsibilities and how they may impact your job performance. Consider asking for flexible hours to allow you to perform your job and care for your loved one.