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self-care tips

Self-Care Tips: How to Put Yourself First When Caregiving for Another

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 properly 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. It’s imperative that you understand the relationship between being a caregiver and stress. Finding the right balance in your life can make a huge difference.

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Caregiver and Stress: 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 will help you to increase energy and fell renew. 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. This could include:

  • Yoga
  • Walking
  • Gardening
  • Dancing
  • Swimming

Don’t Be Afraid To Accept Help

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. Some examples of chores that can be outsourced include:

  • Cooking
  • Grocery shopping
  • Laundry
  • Washing the dishes

Hire Home Health Aides

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. Take the opportunity to:

  • visit friends
  • go to lunch
  • see a movie
  • 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 in a happier state of mind.

Caregiver and Stress: Eat Healthier

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 at the 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 since it can be reheated the next day.

Consider these 12 foods that assist in fighting stress:

  1. Asparagus
  2. Avocados
  3. Berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
  4. Cashews
  5. Chamomile tea
  6. Chocolate
  7. Garlic
  8. Green tea
  9. Oatmeal
  10. Oranges
  11. Oysters
  12. Walnuts

Relaxation is Key

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, Podcasts and Youtube videos on relaxation techniques. Consider these popular Podcasts:

  • Headspace
  • The Digital Mindfulness Podcast
  • Invisibilia

Deep breathing and relaxation techniques could literally improve your quality of life and assist you with the following:

  • Improving digestion
  • Increasing blood flow
  • Decreasing fatigue
  • Promoting sleep
  • Reducing the activity of stress hormones
  • Sustain blood sugar levels

Check On Yourself First

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. You should ask yourself how you’re doing. You could write in a journal to release pent up feelings and thoughts.Also look for support in a group of caregivers or friends that relate to your duties will help.

Understand That Mistakes Happen

What may increase the correlation between being a caregiver and stress is being overly critical of self. Trust me, we all make mistakes; we’re human. In caregiving, you’ll make mistakes as well. However, mistakes are more likely to occur if you are suffering from emotional exhaustion. In fact, not taking care of yourself is probably one of the biggest mistakes you could make, so please focus on yourself too.

If you haven’t made a grave mistake, then laugh about it. If you were testy, apologize; but whatever you do, forgive yourself.

Be Grateful For The Little Things

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.

Sources

https://www.caregiving.com/2017/04/caring-conversations-self-care-tips-for-caregivers/

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/selfcare-tips-for-caregivers-world-ed-day

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