Living Well as a Caregiver

Living Well as a Caregiver - cover page

Living Well as a Caregiver is a guide designed to support caregivers of patients with cardiovascular disease.

This guide presents tips for providing high-quality care for a loved one, and tools for taking care of yourself. It contains several resources to inform your specific self-care needs, including information about physical activity, stress, and sleep, and resources specifically designed for caregivers.

Download the guide

Living Well as a Caregiver (PDF)

Additional resources by topic

The resources listed below are meant as a complement to the guide and as general recommendations and examples only.

Physical activity

  • Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey.
  • The Joy of Movement: How Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage, by Kelly McGonigal.
  • Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding, by Daniel Lieberman.
  • Fitness apps: If you have a mobile device, check out the app store to see available fitness apps that may be of interest to you. 
  • Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology: Guidelines to help Canadians move more, reduce sedentary time, and sleep well.
  • ParticipACTION: A non-profit organization helping Canadians include physical activity in their everyday life. They have a website and mobile application with a variety of educational material, exercise ideas, and an activity tracker.
  • World Health Organization: Fact sheets on physical activity.

Healthy eating

  • This is Your Brain on Food, by Uma Naidoo.
  • The Heart Healthy Cookbook for Two, by Jennifer Koslo.
  • The New American Heart Association Cookbook, by the American Heart Association.
  • Canada’s Food Guide
  • The Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre has several healthy recipes listed on their website.
  • The UOHI Patient Alumni Association also has a list of healthy recipes provided on their website.

Stress and emotional health

  • Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness, by J. Kabat-Zinn.
  • The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Stress Reduction: Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to Manage Stress, Build Resilience and Create the Life you Want, by F. Livheim and F. Bond.
  • The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook, by M. Davis, M. McKay and E. Robbins-Eshelman.
  • The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems, by D. Seigel.
  • A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, by B. Stahl and E. Goldstein.
  • The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, by E. Bourne.
  • A Secret Sadness: The Hidden Relationship Patterns that Make Women Depressed, by V. Whiffen.
  • Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, by D. Burns.
  • The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness, by M. Williams, J. Teasdale, Z. Segal, and J. Kabat-Zinn.
  • Anti-depressant skills workbook: Self-care manual based on scientific research about which strategies work best in managing depression.
  • Wellness Together Canada: Online resources, tools, apps, and connection to volunteers and qualified mental health professionals.
  • Bounce Back Ontario: A free skill-building program designed to help adults and youth 15+ manage symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Canadian Mental Health Association
  • Ottawa Public Health: A list of local centres and resources throughout the city.


  • The Insomnia Workbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Getting the Sleep You Need, by S. Silberman and C. Morin.
  • Overcoming the Enemies of Sleep, by Dr. Charles Morin.
  • Sink into Sleep: A Step-by-Step Workbook for Reversing Insomnia, by J. Davidson.
  • mySleepwell: Helping you get back to sleep without medications, and safely stop taking sleeping pills. They have information covering insomnia, sleeping pills, and cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia, as well as some interactive tools.
  • Canadian Sleep Society
  • Sleep On It: Awareness campaign aiming to demystify sleep for the general public, offer solutions to deal with sleep disorders and make healthy sleep a public health priority.
  • World Sleep Day
  • The Sleep Foundation
  • AbilitiCBT  (with fees)
  • MindBeacon (with fees)

Social connections and healthy relationships

  • Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World, by Vivek H. Murthy.
  • The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters, by Priya Parker.
  • Hold Me Tight Program (with fees): Online self-help modules for couples following the principles of the Hold Me Tight book.

Sexual health

Grief and bereavement

  • The Heart Does Break: Canadian Writers on Grief and Mourning, by Jean Baird and George Bowering.
  • How to Carry What Can’t Be Fixed: A Journal for Grief, by Megan Devine.
  • Comfort for the Grieving Spouse’s Heart: Hope and Healing After Losing Your Partner, by Gary Roe.
  • MyGrief: A free online resource (nine modules) by the Canadian Virtual Hospice to help people move through their grief from the comfort of their own home, at their own pace. Modules are developed by those with lived experience and grief specialists.
  • Grief Stories: Health care vetted podcast featuring real people and professionals about their stories of loss, challenges of grief, and strategies for hope and healing.
  • Champlain Hospice Palliative Care Program: Grief: 10 Things to Keep in Mind
  • CAMH: Loss, grief and healing
  • Entraide-Deuil de l’Outaouais

Caregiving (books)

  • The conscious caregiver: A mindful approach to caring for your loved one without losing yourself, 2017, by Linda Abbit. 
  • A guide for caregiving: What’s next? Planning for safety, quality, and compassionate care for your loved one and yourself, 2017, by Tina Marrelii.
  • Caregiver defined: Words that honor the work of the caregiver, 2017, by Michael Fortuna.
  • Meditations for caregivers: Practical, emotional, and spiritual support for you and your family, 2016, by Barry J. Jacobs and Julia M. Mayer.
  • A husband’s guide to hands-on caregiving, 2017, by Patrick Palmer.
  • Mama peaches and me: Wit and wisdom for worn-out caregivers, 2016, by Christopher-Charles Chaney.
  • The caregiving wife’s handbook, 2012, by Diana Denholm.
  • Love in the time of chronic illness: How to fight the sickness – not each other, 2018, by Barbara Kivowitz.
  • Back to life after a heart crisis: A doctor and his wife share their 8-step cardiac comeback plan, 2011, by Marc Wallack and Jamie Colby.

Wellness and Self-Compassion videos

Produced by Champlain Hospice Palliative Care Program