Your health & well-being matter too
As a caregiver, it is easy to get caught up in everything that needs to get done for who you are caring for, from doctor's appointments and medication refills to grocery shopping and cooking nutritious meals. In the midst of it all, it is easy to forget to take care of yourself too. However, taking the time to practice self-care is a vital role in effective caregiving. Finding good self-care tips for caregivers can be easy but find the ones that work best for you.
At the end of the day, after a full schedule and the stress of looking after someone else’s well-being, it may be hard to find the energy to take care of yourself. Neglecting to make time for self-care can lead to burnout and can be damaging to the caregiving relationship. You’ve heard the phrase-- before you can help others you have to help yourself.
Some common areas where caregivers struggle is in getting enough sleep, eating nutritiously, exercising, taking time to rest when sick, and scheduling regular appointments with doctors and dentists. It is easy to become so focused on someone else that you forget to focus on yourself too. Practicing self-care while caregiver for a loved one can help rejuvenate your overall health.
Take time to self-reflect
It is important as a caregiver to take time to self-reflect. Look at your daily life and
identify both the good and the bad. Determining things that cause you to worry or stress can help you address them. Looking at the good can help you to remember what you value from life. Whether you do this alone through meditation or with a caregiver support group, taking time to reflect on your day can help you feel more relaxed, grateful, and grounded.
Make sure you are getting enough sleep
Adults need anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night for optimum health, and if you are sleep deprived the amount of time you need to sleep increases, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you are not getting the recommended amount of sleep, not only can this put you at a higher risk of getting sick but your performance of everyday tasks can suffer. To help ensure you are getting enough sleep, try to fall asleep at the same time every night. For the hour before bed avoid screens, from smartphones to television. Getting enough sleep is vital to self-care.
Take some time away
Caregiving is a full-time job, and it is hard to find time for yourself, but even having a night off once a week or taking a weekend can go a long way for self-care. Having time to do your errands or to take a bubble bath is vital to avoid burnout, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Is there a family member or a neighbor who can help? Many people want to help but don’t know-how. Even just having someone else step in for a few hours can go a long way.
Science shows that daily exercise can help improve mood, reduce stress, and improve sleep quality. Adults need about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. As a caregiver, it can be hard to find time to take a yoga class or go to the gym, but the same benefits can be reaped from a brisk 10-minute walk around the neighborhood twice a day. Taking just a few minutes a day to move your body can have a significant impact on your overall health and attitude. Not to mention bring many rewards.