By Daniel Sherwin
Caregiving is an activity that demands constant physical and mental effort from the caregiver. While most caregivers disclose that caring for a loved one provides them with a sense of purpose and fulfillment, it also brings its own set of challenges. According to a study, the number of caregivers in the United States in the last five years has increased to more than 53 million, with around 23% reporting deterioration of their health due to prolonged caregiving.
It’s common for caregivers to put the needs of their loved ones over their own. However, to provide the quality of care needed, the caregiver themself needs to be healthy both mentally and physically. This article by Self-Care 4 Caregivers discusses numerous important self-care habits you should include in your daily routine.
Focusing on Your Mental Health
Overcome Guilt: Your goal could be to be the ideal caregiver by being there for each moment they need you. However, in reality, that is not possible; there will be days when you make mistakes or cannot care to the fullest extent. Instead of dwelling on these, channel your thoughts towards how you can be better, whether it’s through better time management, taking assistance from family, or professional services.
Practice Relaxation: Balancing between work and caregiving duties can be mentally draining and cause burnout, outbursts, and anger issues. The best way to mediate your emotions and deal with daily stressors is by practicing relaxation exercises for 15-30 minutes. This can include meditating, journaling, visualizing, or any other activity of your choice.
Don’t Bottle Emotions: The easiest way to increase stress and guilt is to suppress these emotions. You may feel that talking about your guilt or mistakes would make others look down on you; however, in reality, it’s the opposite. Learning to take help from others will improve your mental health, allowing you to alleviate stress and gain insights on how to do things better.
There are numerous caregiver support groups that you can join. In such a group, you will be surrounded by people who face the same challenges as you and provide a safe space to express your emotions.
Focusing on Your Physical Health
Make Time for Exercise: The best way to deal with the stress of caregiving is to exercise. Exercising instructs our body to release hormones such as serotonin and dopamine, which produce feelings of happiness and well-being. Additionally, exercise improves your physical strength, allowing you to assist your loved ones better.
Eat Clean: Develop a culture of eating healthy at home, which includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, probiotics, and more. According to research, a healthy diet leads to a more robust immune system, lowers the risk of chronic illnesses, and increases energy levels.
Sleep Well: On average, adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Insufficient sleep can elevate stress levels and cause other health problems as well. Focus on creating a healthy sleeping routine which includes avoiding electronic devices an hour before bed, having a set time to sleep, and limiting the use of caffeine and alcohol from your diet.
According to Kolmac, living in a clean home leads to upliftment of one’s mood and increased happiness. Conversely, a dirty and cluttered home causes stress.
The best way to declutter your home is to get rid of the excess, including furniture, rugs, wall decorations, accessories, etc. As for cleaning, dedicate 1-2 days a week towards vacuuming the house, scrubbing washrooms, and deep cleaning the kitchen.
As for parts of the house that are difficult and time-consuming to clean, consider hiring professional services; window cleaners have the expertise and industry-grade tools to clean your windows of dust, spots, and stains, making them look spotless. Conduct an online search for the best window washers near me and compare prices and reviews. On average, expect to spend around $260 on window cleaning services.
You can also hire landscapers and roof cleaners to give you outdoors a clean, fresh look.
When it comes to caregiving, it’s essential to balance the needs of your loved ones and yourself. Only when you are healthy can you provide the proper care needed.
Featured photo by: Pexels