We're sure you've probably heard the saying "You can't pour from an empty cup". This quote emphasizes the importance and necessity of self-care in order to more effectively care for others. Self-care can be as simple as taking a long, quiet bubble bath, getting a manicure/pedicure, or going for a walk in the park and it can be as extravagant as a vacation at a tropical island. Whether simple or extravagant, most family caregivers find it very challenging to make the time for self-care.

The day to day care of your sick or disabled loved one, in addition to taking care of children and a spouse, working, cooking, household duties, etc. can wear you down and make you ready to retreat from the daily grind. There are quite a few organizations that sponsor retreats specifically for caregivers to get that needed break and refreshment. We will provide you with information on three such programs below.

HeartSong Retreats, founded by Linda Lehman-Murphy, caters to both family and professional caregivers. Located in Denver, Colorado, HeartSong offers you a place where you can simply enjoy some peace and quiet and reflect, talk with others who understand what you are going through, enjoy nature, and be pampered. At HeartSong Retreats there are opportunities to indulge in your own individual retreat or participate in a group caregivers' retreat. You can find out more about HeartSong at www.heartsongretreats.com.

Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) sponsors one and two day retreats for family caregivers. For those whose budget is a little tight, FCA's retreats are free of charge. The 1-day retreat consists of classes on topics relevant to caregivers, with individual free time provided as well. This free time can be used to converse with other caregivers, take a nature walk, spend time alone, etc. Lunch and entertainment are also included in the program. The 2-day retreats are theme-based and provide a time and place for the three R's: rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation all in a serene setting. Massages, relaxation exercises, journal writing, hiking trails, entertainment, and home-cooked meals are all included in the package. Check out FCA's website at www.caregiver.org/retreats. Here you will find out more about the retreats and be able to view their calendar of events.

Stonewall Farm Caregivers Respite Retreat, located on a farm in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, is owned by a former Alzheimer's family caregiver. Stonewall offers activities such as massage therapy, yoga, Reiki, blueberry picking, swimming, or you can choose to just relax. For more information on Stonewall and/or to inquire about reservations, their website is www.stonewallfarmbedandbreakfast-countryweddings.com/caregiver-s-respite-retreat. Don't wait until you feel like retreating from life to take a break. Get away and relax and renew at one of these retreats or at one of the many other retreat programs offered.

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