Expect to experience a range of emotions from fear and helplessness to anger and anxiety. You may become exhausted and impatient, or have difficulty absorbing information given to you by the ICU team. Self-care is not selfish; it is essential to patient well-being.
Self Care Tips
Following are some helpful hints from our medical team to help you take care of yourself while your loved one is in the hospital:
- Eat and stay hydrated: Try setting an alert on your personal device to remember to eat throughout the day.
- Sleep: When a loved one is in the ICU, family and friends tend to get less sleep than normal or they suffer from poor sleep quality. Getting enough rest is essential for your physical and emotional health. Lack of sleep can put you at risk for physical illness, depression, anxiety, and memory issues. Practice good sleep habits such as avoiding caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime. Physical activity promotes good quality sleep, go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Establish a regular and relaxing bedtime routine.
- Recharge: Find small ways to recharge such as taking a short walk, visiting the chapel, saying a prayer, eating meals in the cafeteria, listening to music or going for a massage.
- Support: Accept offers of support that feel comfortable for you. Allowing those you trust to be there for you also helps them during difficult times. Just as you are here for your family member or friend who is ill, the people in your life also want to be there for you. Our chaplains, social workers and staff are also here to help. The patient and family support specialist is dedicated to helping you navigate the ICU experience and can provide counseling and resources.
- Express: Having an outlet for your feelings and thoughts reduces stress and anxiety. Healthy expression can include writing, talking, painting, playing music, etc. Find the outlet that is best for you.
- Compassion: We are often harder on ourselves than we would ever be on others in the same situation. Practice self-compassion and go easy on yourself.
- Communicate: Please feel comfortable asking questions and expressing your concerns to the ICU team.
- Resources: Our Health Science Library can help you better understand your loved one’s condition. Use reputable information and resources and be mindful that not everything on the internet is reliable.
- Online Care Pages: Online platforms such as CaringBridge and Supportful allow you to create a personal and private website to communicate updates, receive support, help organize visits and coordinate errands. These sites also offer an optional section for assistance with bills and expenses.
Atlantic Health has partnered with myStrength, a wellness app with personal support for you. Recharge, Refresh and Improve Your Mood with myStrength’s web and mobile tools to support your goals and well-being. Learning to use myStrength’s tools can help you overcome challenges you face and stay mentally strong. And it’s all safe, secure and personalized-just for you.
Thrive: ICU Survivors Peer Support Group
Survivors of critical illness and their adult family members and caregivers can connect with others who are experiencing similar challenges during recovery. The group is led by social work staff and a peer lived experience volunteer. Thrive is meeting virtually via secure videoconferencing. Please call 973-971-5699 to register at least one week prior to your first day attending the group.