Obi Wan Carenobi

Let's talk about self-care and caregiver burnout with actor Greg Grunberg.
 
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IN a nutshell
Before we jump into things, we want to start off by wishing a happy Veteran's Day to all military members and families. From all of us here at Healthline, we thank you for your service.
If you love someone with a chronic condition, you'll probably know that being a caregiver or support person can be challenging. This week, Greg Grunberg — who you might know from "Star Wars," NBC's "Heroes," or Showtime's "Masters of Sex" — gives us a firsthand look at the importance of self-care while caregiving. Just how do you make sure you stay balanced and moving forward, no matter your situation? Greg talks it out, below.
Want the full rundown of today's newsletter? Here's a list of everything we're sending your way:
Q&A with Greg Grunberg
a handy device for anxiety and stress relief
the science behind hitting the snooze button
more health stories you need
Be well,
Morgan Mandriota
Newsletter Editor, Healthline
 
 
  Written by Morgan Mandriota
November 11, 2022 • 8 min read
 
 
 
Not so long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Greg Grunberg starred as X-wing pilot Temmin "Snap" Wexley in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Episode VII)." Now, he's an author (of a bunch of books), a podcaster (of a bunch of shows), and the founder of TalkAboutIt.org. And most, if not all, of his work raises awareness for people with epilepsy, like his son, Jake.
In a recent interview with Healthline's Gabe Howard, Grunberg opens up about managing his mental health while caring for Jake. Below, we share our favorite clips from their chat on topics like caregiver burnout, how to prioritize your well-being while supporting someone with a chronic condition, and some of the important lessons he learned along the way.
*This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Q: Self-care is important for every single human on the planet, but why is self-care so important for caregivers?
A: It's like a constant battle for me. I know I've got to be healthy. My mind's got to be right. You have to take care of yourself as a whole, just like you normally would, to be able to take care of others and handle things, but this is a rollercoaster.
My wife and I have this picture up on the wall … it's a quote from Willy Wonka which says, "Hold on tight. I'm not exactly sure what's going to happen." And that's the way your life is when you're dealing with any kind of condition that could strike at any time. But if you're healthy, you'll be prepared to deal with that stuff.
Q: In your series, The Caregiver, you talk with so many people who really feel like they have to be on call 24/7. Does this wreck their mental health? What are you seeing?
A: I'll just use my personal situation. Jake is incredibly independent. He's doing very well. But my wife and I, still, in the back of our minds at any given moment, are always thinking, "Oh, we should be there. If something happens, I hope somebody's right there with him and knows what to do." Obviously, everyone in this job knows what to do, but there's still always that lingering thought "I'm not doing enough. I could do more."
In the epilepsy world, seizure world –– anybody that's dealing with any kind of neurological condition –– their caregiver wants to be there all the time. Yet, at the same time, independence is the most important thing. We say "seizure freedom." "I want to be seizure-free. I don't want to have to deal with seizures anymore."
It's a really tough thing because if you have epilepsy, it's always something in the back of your mind that could come back even if you're doing really well. So, you have to stay on top of keeping yourself healthy, doing the right thing, taking your medication on time, all that stuff. But it's something that never goes away in your mind.
Greg Grunberg
Q: Are there mental health challenges in your world that are exacerbated because of epilepsy?
A: That's a great question, and yes.
You want to feel that what you're doing, the routine you have, the medication you're on, the therapies you're doing, are all working –– I'm doing the right thing. You need to recognize that, and keep going. But when something happens, you get depressed, you get angry, you get pissed off.
The mental health aspect [plays a big part], and we constantly have to remind ourselves that Jake has this condition. It doesn't have him. He has epilepsy. Epilepsy does not have Jake. It's a never-ending battle, but mental health plays a big, big role in it, and we just have to keep ourselves in check. And we constantly do that.
Another way is by having the balance. My wife is a rock –– she loses it, I lose it, but I'm there for her, [and] she's there for me. My other boys are incredible, and they've learned how to deal with this. They're an incredible support system.
So, I guess what I'm getting at is don't be afraid to let people be that support system for you. Have somebody that you can call. Don't be afraid to accept people that love you and are there for you, because you can't do it all. Accept a caregiver. Accept that love and that support.
Q: What advice do you have for caregivers who are reluctant to let go? Who don't know how to ask for or accept help? Who aren't sure how to prioritize their mental health and take a step back?
A: Know that everybody's got something, and don't ever turn away from people that want to help you … accept it! It doesn't make you any less of a person.
You know, we all need some level of care in our lives. Therapy is an amazing thing. Just talking to friends, meditating, having time for yourself, all of that stuff –– none of them are a weakness. And you need to know that nobody's perfect, and you're never going to do it right.
You can do better every day, or you can continually do the right thing. Just know that you're doing it. You're doing a good job. And keep moving forward. Keep looking forward.
Q: Are there any last bits of wisdom that you want to pass on?
A: You don't have to be a part of the mental health community or the epilepsy community or the physical health community to learn and have compassion and understand. Never shame. Never blame. Understand. That's what it's all about. Learn. Open up your mind.
If you see someone have a mental health episode, you should know what to do and what not to do. If you go to TalkAboutIt.org or listen to my podcast Talk About It, you'll know what to do when someone has a seizure. I mean, it's a little thing. It's just basic knowledge. But we all need each other.
Click here to listen to the full podcast episode.
 
 
 
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You know those great finds you just *have* to tell your friends about? That's how we feel about the products we recommend here. Every pick has been vetted by our editorial team, and we genuinely think it'll make your life better. Want to learn more about our vetting process? Read all about it here.
 
 
 
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The science behind hitting the snooze button
Weird Science
The science behind hitting the snooze button
I'm a one-alarm kinda gal, whereas my partner is a six-alarm kinda guy. I've always wondered why people like him are like that. New research tells us he's far from alone, and the reason why it happens really isn't that serious.

According to this study published in the journal Sleep, 57% of participants regularly hit snooze (and females are 50% more likely to do it than males). It has to do with sleep deprivation more than anything else. The CDC says 1 in 3 people are sleep deprived –– the study's findings suggest that snoozing might be how people fight that feeling.

Are there any health risks of slapping the snooze button? "As far as we can tell from the physiology and our data, waking to one alarm or hitting the snooze button and waking to two or three alarms doesn't make much of a difference," says Aaron Striegel, professor of computer science and engineering at Notre Dame and lead researcher of this study. "If you need an alarm because you're sleep-deprived, that's the issue." He claims snoozing may actually benefit you, especially if it helps you reduce your caffeine intake and wake up more alert and ready to go in the a.m..

More research is needed to better understand the deeper effects of different alarm habits. But if you're dying to fall back asleep after your alarm goes off, there may not be much harm in hitting snooze … as long as it doesn't disrupt your partner who sleeps beside you. Wondering how to catch better Zzz's? Try these proven tips for sleeping better.

Chime in: Do you only need one alarm or are you a snoozer? How many times do you hit the snooze button? Let us know at wellnesswire@healthline.com.
 
 
 
 
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