Taking care of yourself first is a priority. In many cases, caregiving is a full-time job. It demands most of your time, attention and energy. If you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll have nothing left in your reserves.Following these self-care tips are a wonderful way to get started and put yourself first.
It’s easy to forget about taking care of yourself when you’re taking care of a family member. You have all the responsibilities, and you can’t do them if you’re exhausted. So you must say to yourself, “I will take care of myself emotionally, mentally and physically.” Then you just need to do it.
What are some self-care tips?
So, what are some self-care tips to take care of yourself first? Most of them are common sense and aren’t too complicated. For example, increase physical activity. It doesn’t mean you must go and run a marathon. But, even getting 10 minutes of some exercise a day can go a long way. If you’re moving, it counts. It could include yoga, walking, gardening, dancing or swimming.
If someone offers help, take it. Let others run some of your errands or help with caregiving. Allow someone else to clean the house while you take a walk. Have a list of simple chores on hand that can be completed by anyone. When they ask what they can do to help, you can refer to the list.
Focus on eating healthy. Fast food is okay occasionally but not if you’re eating it often. Instead, cook some meals over the weekend or beginning of the week. Then you’ll have leftovers, or you can freeze them for later. Slice up some fruits and veggies and place them in bags. Store them in the refrigerator for a healthy snack on the go. Bulk cooking is good too because it frees up some “me” time because it can be reheated the next day.
Try deep breathing and relaxation techniques. These will refocus your energy and focus your mind. During times of stress, it will help calm you. There are books, CDs and Youtube videos on relaxation techniques.
Another idea is to have Home Health Aides come in and relieve you. They can provide Respite Care by providing caregiving for your family member. It could be for a day, a few days a week or a weekend. It provides you with some much needed time to yourself. You can visit friends, go to lunch and a movie, or just a walk in the park. It lets you have “me” time to unwind and let go of the stress. You’ll come back in a better mood and a happier frame of mind.
A few Self-Care Tips
You probably check in with your loved one first thing in the morning. You ask how their night was, if they slept okay and if they need anything. Well, here’s an idea. How about checking in with yourself first thing in the morning? If not the morning, you could do a check in at night before you go to bed. Ask yourself how you’re doing. You could write in a journal to release pent up feelings and thoughts.
Also, we all make mistakes; we’re human. In caregiving, you’ll make mistakes as well. If it isn’t a grave mistake, laugh about it. If you were testy, apologize; but whatever you do, forgive yourself.
Finally, write a list down of everything you are grateful for in your life. It can be something as simple as hearing a bird sing. Maybe the cup of coffee was especially good, or your loved one was in a good mood this morning. It’s the little things in life that make life precious.