Taking the time to care for oneself can be difficult for all of us amid our busy schedules, but this can be even more difficult for caregivers. Some caregivers may even feel guilty about using the necessary time to take care of themselves when they are constantly in the mindset of providing care for others, but self-care is essential for caregivers to stay healthy.
The National Alliance for Caregiving estimated that as of 2009, 65.7 million Americans were providing care for an ill or disabled loved one in their own home, and that number has only increased since then. For any and all caregivers, it is important to realize that in order to provide care for others, you must first care for yourself, which is why we have collected some tips so you can stay healthy as a caregiver.
Top 5 Tips
Whether you’re just starting out as a caregiver or if you’ve providing your loved one with care for years, it is important that you learn how to make time for yourself. Many of these tips below only take a few minutes, which is something that even the busiest caregiver can spare: Breathe. Although it is so simple, never underestimate the power of taking a few small breathers throughout your day. Breathing deeply not only combats the effects of stress, but it also helps you focus and feel relaxed – even in the middle of a busy day. Take three deep breathes a few times throughout the day and you’ll feel the benefits right away. Eat snacks that are high in protein. Irritability, headaches and fatigue are some of the most common effects of unstable blood sugar levels, and protein-enriched foods are great for balancing your energy levels and moods. High-protein foods that make great snacks include cheese, nuts, hardboiled eggs, turkey or an apple with peanut butter. Try yoga poses. In particular, the “legs on chair” pose seems to be the best pose to take pressure off of your spine and legs. Lie on the floor on your back while your legs from the knee down are supported by a chair. Although this may take longer than the other activities (5-10 minutes as opposed to 1-2 minutes), yoga can really help you relax. Journal often. Journaling has recently grown in popularity among caregivers, and no wonder – keeping a journal helps you re-energize, be optimistic and even find solutions to difficult situations you are facing. Even if you don’t have enough time to write about your whole day, simply write down three things that you are thankful for – expressing gratitude helps you feel happier and gives you positive energy. Realize the power of a good perspective. Norman Vincent Peale’s famous quote “Change your thoughts and you change your world” shows the impact our perspective has on our life. Even though mental experts disregarded his ideas on positive thinking, this statement is a great reminder to not let things that are beyond our control get us down. Bad things happen, but changing your perspective can help you form the best attitude you can have during the current situation.
These are some great tips to help you get started thinking about how you can take care of yourself amid a busy schedule, but be aware that this is certainly not an exhaustive list. There are many more activities you can do that fall under the tenets of self-care. When deciding how you can stay healthy as a caregiver, find something that you genuinely enjoy doing so it doesn’t feel like another chore on your list of things to do.
Remember that self-care is all about you, so enjoy taking the time to re-energize every day.