Caring for a loved one strains even the most resilient people. Whether you are providing to help an ill spouse or partner, a disabled child, or an aging relative, this job can be physically and mentally exhausting, lonely, stressful, sad, and many other mixed emotions. In addition, caregiving can be rewarding and fulfilling, but the caregiver must maintain balance in their life.
It’s crucial to remember that it is not selfish to focus on your own needs and desires when you are a caregiver. Self-care is actually an extremely vital part of the job. November 13th is Caregiver Appreciation Day, so we want to share some tips on how caregivers can preserve their own health and wellbeing during this special occasion.
Get Exercise: This may sound like the last thing you want to do when you feel drained, but it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself. Clear your mind with a walk, yoga, a visit to the gym, hike through the woods, or another activity that gets your body moving. You don’t need to run a marathon, but aim for 20 – 30 minutes of exercise at least 3 days a week to really feel the positive benefits.
Eat a Balanced Diet: It’s easy to get into the fast food rut when you are busy and stressed; however eating whole, nutritious food is one of the best ways to maintain your health and energy. There are many resources online for preparing quick and healthy meals. Regardless how many people you are cooking for, prepare extra food and freeze it so you always have nutritious dishes on hand. This a necessity for days you feel too tired to cook.
Do Something For YOU: Sometimes we need to treat ourselves to something special. Go have a beverage at your favorite coffee shop, plan a dinner date with an old friend, pamper yourself with some spa time, pedicure, or schedule a massage. Find a day and time each week to do something for YOU! Feeling joy is a necessity.
Talk It Out: When you are overwhelmed, it’s crucial to talk it out. Find someone who is a good listener and support system like a sibling, friend, co-worker, family member, etc. Also, don’t forget to ask for and accept the help you need. There is no shame in asking others to help out wherever needed. Most people not only want to help, but feel really good about doing so.
Take Regular Breaks: During the day, be sure to make it a priority to take 20-30 minute breaks throughout the day. If you are the primary caretaker for a loved one who needs 24 hour care, consider making arrangements for someone to relieve you of your duties. If that’s not an option, hiring a professional can be extremely beneficial. Whether it’s for just a few hours a week or a full day off; this valuable time for yourself is so important for both you and person you are caring for.
Drop The Guilt: Do not feel guilty when away or attending to your own life. You can only do the best you can. Remind yourself that you are being a loving and caring individual, but you must also love and care for yourself, too.
Count Your Blessings: If you look for it, you will find gifts during even the most difficult of times. Always count your blessings and look for the silver lining. Through your caregiver journey, you may want to start a gratitude journal. Each night, reflect on the day and jot down a few moments that made you smile, or something that day you felt particularly grateful for. This will help you stay mindful, grateful, and blessed as you support the person you love.