Self care is important for all of us, but it is especially essential for caregivers. According to a Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) report, there are 34.2 million Americans who identify as a caregiver for an adult age 50 or older. Many report feelings of guilt or unease for having feelings of wanting time to themselves.
As the saying goes, you cannot pour from an empty cup. Taking care of yourself not only benefits yourself, but also the person you are caring for and the quality of care you can give them.
The following practices are restorative for the mind, body and soul. They will help to keep your spirits and health high so you can continue to lead a healthy life and help others.
Eating a healthy diet not only affects your physical health but your emotional health as well, giving you more energy and combating sluggishness. In the long run it can help decrease the risk of cancer and heart disease.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation can cause chaos on your mental health and lead to negative emotions and depression. Seven to eight hours is recommended consistently. Having trouble with sleep? Make sure you are creating a consistent bedtime, limiting screen time two hours before bed, and sleeping a cool, dark space.
According to the FCA, exercise “promotes better sleep, reduces depression and tension, and increases alertness and energy.” Although finding the motivation and time to exercise, especially in the beginning, may be a struggle. Small steps will add up. Try walking for 20 minutes a day, three days a week to experience the full benefits of exercise. Group classes like yoga or Zumba can also encourage deep breathing and give you an opportunity to socialize.
Make Time for Hobbies
Investing time and energy into activities and hobbies can help remind you of who you are outside of being a caregiver. All healthy relationships need a sense of individuality. Focusing on your own enjoyment can, in turn, allow you to bring greater joy to caregiving.
Ask for Help
Caregiving can be overwhelming. It is okay to ask for help from family and friends or consult with professionals on your best options for both your own and your loved one’s care.