Being a caregiver means you provide help and support to someone with an illness, mental disability or physical disability. When you take on the role of caregiver to help a family member in need, you are faced with a seemingly overwhelming amount of new responsibilities. You may find that you suddenly need to provide a wide array of assistance, including driving the person to appointments, picking up groceries and medications, helping the person bathe, preparing meals and so much more.

Caregiving is a demanding job that requires a great deal of physical and emotional fortitude. Here are three caregiver tips that may help you thrive in your new role.

  1. Learn everything you can 

When you first find out a loved one is ill or disabled, it can be a frightening time. One of the best ways to combat feelings of fear and anxiety is to arm yourself with knowledge. This is a good time to research everything you can about the specific illness or disability. Contact disease-specific local and national organizations for information. Learn everything you can about becoming a caregiver. The more you know, the more confident you will feel about the road ahead.

  1. Connect with other caregivers 

As a new caregiver, you may be feeling worried, anxious and even grief-stricken about your loved one’s health and new responsibilities. One of the most important things you can do as a new caregiver is seek out other disability caregivers for support. These are people who will know exactly what you’re going through and can help calm your nerves and help you feel less alone.

You can search online for local caregiver groups that can give you the support you’ll need as you begin this new chapter of your life. Other places you may find to connect with other caregivers include your local hospital, your church, disease-specific organizations and national caregiver organizations.

  1. Keep your own life in balance 

When you are caring for an ailing or disabled loved one, it can be easy to lose your sense of identity outside of your new role. That’s why it is very important to strive for balance in your life. That means carving out time just for you on a regular basis. Use that time to fill up your own tank by getting rest, connecting with friends, exercising or taking part in your favorite hobby. Regardless of how you choose to spend that time, it’s essential that you take it regularly. Doing so will make you a much better caregiver.

Becoming a disability caregiver is admirable, but not always easy. If you are taking on the responsibility of watching over a loved one, remember these important tips for caregivers.