Five Simple Self-Care Tips for Caregivers
Caring for a loved one who is chronically ill or struggles with mobility limitations is an inspiring and selfless thing to do. But, there’s no doubt that being a caregiver — whether it’s a full-time position or you do it in addition to working and caring for your own family — can also be incredibly draining.
Caregiving requires you to give a lot of yourself to another person, and it’s easy to feel as though there’s not enough time left in the day to tend to your own needs. The problem with this, though, is that, when you don’t dedicate enough time to yourself, it’s easy to end up feeling anxious, stressed out, or resentful.
If you’re currently in this position, take a step back and ask yourself when you last took some time for something you wanted or need to do. If you can’t remember, that’s a major red flag that you’re doing too much.
Start implementing these five simple self-care tips into your life on a consistent basis so that you can feel better and take better care of your loved one.
1. Schedule Regular Breaks
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One of the simplest self-care tips that you can start implementing today is to make sure you’re scheduling breaks for yourself regularly. This is especially important if you care for someone and also live with them. When this is the case, it’s easy to get into the habit of always being on-call throughout the day and night.
Remember, it’s not realistic for one person to provide 24-hour care for another, even if you do live with them. Schedule time off for yourself and arrange for someone else to come in and take over. That could be another family member or friend, or it could be a home health aide or a professional caregiver.
The specific amount of time you take off and the frequency of your breaks are up to you. But, the point is that you should not be working round the clock to make sure all your loved one’s needs are met.
2. Exercise Regularly
If you’re not prioritizing your own physical fitness, you’re doing both yourself and the person you’re caring for a disservice. If you’re not keeping your own body in good condition, you’re not going to be able to care for them as effectively, especially if lifting and supporting them is included in that care.
You don’t need to run marathons or spend hours lifting weights. But, you should be carving out time a few times a week to do some exercise that you enjoy. Even just going for walks or doing some bodyweight exercises outside are great options. You might also want to consider incorporating more relaxing forms of exercise like yoga or Tai Chi, which are great for the body and the mind.
3. Eat A Healthy, Balanced Diet
Eating a healthy, balanced diet will also help you make sure you have the energy you need to care for your loved one effectively. It’s easy to turn to processed foods and sugary snacks when you’re feeling stressed out and overworked. But, you’ll be much more resilient to the stressors of your daily life if you fuel your body with quality foods.
Keep fresh fruit, vegetables, high-quality proteins, and healthy fats on hand so that it’s easy to prepare wholesome, nutritious meals for yourself and your loved one. You may also want to consider preparing meals in advance so that, on busy days, all you have to do is pop them in the microwave and heat them up.
4. Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is usually the first thing to go when someone’s schedule gets hectic. As a caregiver, quality sleep can be especially hard to come by, especially if you have to get up in the middle of the night to help your loved one.
If possible, look for ways to help your loved one safely maintain their independence at night so that you can get better sleep. For example, if you typically have to wake up to help them out of bed, you might want to look into installing bed rails that are designed to keep those with limited mobility safe. These rails can provide them with the support and stability they need as they get in and out of bed.
If this isn’t an option, you may want to look into switching off nights with another caregiver. That way, you’ll still be able to get a few nights a week of high-quality sleep.
Whether you’re a part-time or full-time caregiver, these self-care tips will help you maintain balance in your life and avoid feeling burned out. Start implementing them today so that you can feel your best while continuing to provide quality care to your loved one.