By Virginia Cooper
Caring for a loved one is a special calling that requires time, understanding, and patience. While giving your time and attention to the special seniors in your life is vital for their overall health, it’s also important to take time to care for yourself. By regularly engaging in self-care activities, you can avoid burnout and be more alert and attentive to your loved one’s caregiving needs.
1. For Your Body
A healthy, well-rested body is essential for caregivers who dedicate many hours a day to tending to a loved one. With many Americans spending upward of 20 hours a week caring for their loved ones in addition to working outside the home, it’s no wonder so many people feel burnt out. Unfortunately, if you neglect your body’s signals that it needs self-care, you may be less alert, leading to mistakes that could harm your loved one.
Listen to your body and take time to regularly engage in activities that benefit your body, such as daily exercise. Getting regular exercise offers many benefits, such as reducing blood pressure, improving lung capacity, and reducing your risk for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Eating healthy fuels your body to give it the energy it needs when caring for your loved ones. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, lean protein, and whole grains, and avoid too much caffeine, sodium, and fat, which can make you feel sluggish. You should also aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to stay hydrated.
2. For Your Mind
In addition to having a healthy body, it’s also essential to maintain a healthy mind. While caring for a loved one is rewarding, primary caregivers can be stressful, especially if they don’t have help. With studies showing at least 50% of caregivers reporting depression, taking care of your mental health is vital.
Many caregivers feel guilty for leaving their loved ones at home to engage in hobbies or socialization, but taking time for yourself is essential to your mental health. Enlist the help of respite services to care for your senior loved one so you can socialize or enjoy hobbies. You may even be able to find hobbies to enjoy at home with your senior loved one, such as painting or putting together puzzles.
In addition to engaging in hobbies and socialization, inner reflection can also help calm your mind and reduce stress. Try starting each morning with a five-minute meditation practice to center yourself and help prepare you for the day.
3. For Your Surroundings
When you dedicate a significant amount of time to working and caring for someone else, you may not have extra time or energy to maintain your home. If you’re a homeowner, those responsibilities often fall to you, which means if you don’t handle the routine chores, they may not get done. Take extra stress off your plate by outsourcing your home maintenance.
Search cleaning, repair, and yard services online to find professionals who can assist with these tasks, so you can focus your time on your caretaking duties. Do a quick search for “landscapers near me” to start. A landscaper offers mowing, hardscaping, pruning, irrigation, and fertilizing.
Remember, it’s okay to focus time and energy on yourself. However, engaging in regular self-care will help you put your best foot forward when caring for your senior loved ones and ensure they’re getting your full attention.
POCWASN is committed to offering self-care services to the parents and caretakers of individuals with disabilities. If you have any questions, please fill out the confidential form below.