This guest post was written by Harry Cline of newcaregiver.org.
Whether you’re looking after a loved one or a client, being a caregiver can be mentally and physically exhausting. You’re so used to helping others and checking items off your to-do list that you feel guilty for even considering taking time for yourself.
But burnout is a reality, and it can knock you for a loop! So when it comes to mental health, it’s important to hit the pause button. Just think of self-care as a necessary part of fulfilling your obligations. As such, it’s important to prioritize self-care and add it to your busy schedule.
Not sure exactly where to start in the self-care department? Here are some stress-melting ideas to get your well-being on the right track.
7 Self-Care Ideas for Caregivers to Stay Strong and Optimistic
1) Sleep Well
If financial concerns are nudging you toward getting a second job, don’t get one that will leave you with chronic sleep deprivation, or doing anything else that prevents you from getting at least six hours of shut-eye each night. However, if some situations are simply beyond your control, a nice half-hour nap around midday can help you catch up on lost sleep. Perhaps you can squeeze in a nap while the person you’re caring for is also napping. (Win-win!)
2) Eat Well
While reducing the amount of alcohol and processed foods you consume, try nourishing your digestive system with whole foods. You can, of course, treat yourself to fast food or indulge in chocolate occasionally. Just keep in mind that eating poorly every day will eventually take a toll on your physical health (and possibly your mental health). To streamline your meal plan, prep your meals in advance by rote. Make it less of a chore by playing music you love or listening to a podcast.
3) Move and Groove
If you have many things on your daily to-do list, you’re probably active for most of the day. As a result, you may not feel like you need to exercise. But working out at a moderate or vigorous intensity, plus getting that heart rate up for at least 20 minutes each day, can build up your strength before you know it and make you feel much better.
To move and groove, visit a community pool near you and do some laps. You could also opt for a brisk walk, a hike in nature, or dance until you’ve sweated your worries away.
4) Activate Your Relaxation Response
You can combat stress by practicing some deep-breathing exercises when you feel overwhelmed. Frequent meditation or yoga sessions can also put you into a restful mood and do wonders for your digestive system.
Otherwise, you can try a new hobby that isn’t work-related. This could be anything from baking to painting. When you’re having fun and doing something for yourself, you’ll find it easier to recharge your batteries.
Maintaining social connections with people who understand your lifestyle and life circumstances can improve your mental health vastly. Caregiver support groups are also comforting and considerate of your well-being.
What’s more, spending time with friends and family members, whether in person or online, can relax the mind and body. Doing something nice for someone else will help you unwind — even if it’s something as simple as watering houseplants when your friend is out of town.
These interactions should happen regularly. Go for a cup of coffee or keep a lookout for deals at your local spa so you can unwind together. That’s a twofer right there!
6) Hire Help
Sometimes you need a complete timeout. If you have wiggle room in your budget, consider hiring a health care aide or booking your elderly parent into a short-term assisted living community. If you receive pushback from your loved ones, reassure them that it’s just for a few days. Let them know that me-time is important, too, especially when you can’t seem to find any.
Alternatively, invest in home improvement projects that will make the views from your windows or relaxing on your lawn pleasurable experiences. Read landscaper reviews online by searching for “landscape companies near me” and see if any well-recommended garden services are running promos before requesting a quote.
7) Refill Your Cup
Caregiving is hard work. After pouring all of your energies into the role, you deserve to refill your cup. If you like, you can include the people you look after in one or more of these activities. The best part? Their stress levels may go down, too, making your job that much easier and more rewarding.
Now that you’ve got some ideas, start your self-care journey today and check out these popular posts from QWERTYdelight for more wellness inspiration.