Self-Care as a Caregiver

It’s nearly impossible to take care of someone else if you’re not first taking care of your own mental and physical health. When your needs are taken care of, the person you’re caring for will benefit as well. It’s not uncommon for caregivers to experience sleep deprivation, poor eating habits, limited exercise, and anxious feelings. Additionally, caregivers are likely to postpone making their own medical appointments due to lack of free-time, which can prolong or worsen an existing illness or ailment. Because of this, it is important to practice self-care and start consistently incorporating healthy habits.

Here are a few ways to start incorporating self-care into your daily routine in a realistic and attainable way!

1. Learn to manage personal stressors

Stress is more than having an anxiety attack or having heart palpitations, as there are many signs that may not seem very obvious. If you’re experiencing irritability, forgetfulness, or you’re having trouble sleeping, these may all be signs that you’re building up stress. It’s important to first identify what in your life is causing your anxiety. Is it your job? Issues with your family? Or maybe you have trouble telling people “no?” From here it’s critical to determine which stressors you actually have control over and which ones you don’t. For the stressors you can change, it’s crucial to take action early on and to accept the things you cannot change.

It’s also essential to find ways to reduce your feelings of stress. There isn’t one perfect stress-reducing practice that’s effective for everyone, so it’s important to test out different stress reducers to figure out what helps you. These activities can include meditating, completing an exercise routine, or visiting with a friend.

2. Ask for help

It can be easy to get into the mindset that it’ll just be easier if you do everything yourself. This way, you don’t have to spend time explaining to someone else how you’d like something done and you won’t feel like you’re a bother. However, no one can do everything themselves and it’s essential that you delegate tasks or ask for help in areas where you could use it. Don’t be afraid to utilize community resources, friends, and especially other employees.

This can even be talking to someone who is supportive or who can help sustain your mental health. A therapist, trusted colleague, religious figure, or family member are all great resources. Caregiving takes a toll both mentally and physically, so always remember you are never on your own.

3. Practice self-compassion

Being kind to yourself is necessary to execute proper self-care. Practicing self-compassion means acknowledging your strengths as a caregiver and letting go of guilt. It’s about forgiving yourself for any mistakes you’ve made as well as taking the time to accept who you are as an individual. It’s also important not to feel guilty about taking time to focus on your own wants and needs.

Pencil in time to take a relaxing bath, read a good book, go for a peaceful walk, or even take a day off when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Pay close attention to your body and mind in order to practice positive self-compassion.

4. Eat well and get more rest

A caregiver’s role is hectic and time-consuming, making it hard to plan healthy meals and get enough sleep. However, getting a good night’s sleep and maintaining proper nutrition through your meal choices are both vital. You can accomplish this by first creating a consistent nighttime routine. Implementing a routine helps your body register that it’s time to go to sleep. This can include washing your face, stretching, reading, and/or meditating.

Eating well can help you avoid burnout. It’s a good idea to avoid processed foods as these increase inflammation in the body, which can already occur due to stress. Pack healthy snacks to have throughout the day and your meals don’t have to be complex or take long to cook. There are plenty of healthy eating tips and recipes to follow to make your life easier!

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