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10 Self-Care Strategies for Family Caregivers

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Self-care is the key to maintaining your well-being, staying happy, and living a fulfilled life. Practicing self-care is also a significant strategy if you seek to enhance your longevity as a family caregiver.

It is easy to neglect your health and well-being when caring for a loved one as there is generally no end date for the care you are providing. n fact, you will want to make taking care of yourself a priority, for the last thing you will want is to end up overburdened or distressed.

It is also important to remember as a caregiver that you deserve love, care, support, and time so you can avoid burnout.

10 Quick & Easy Self-Care Tips for Caregivers

The following are ten quick and easy self-care tips you can incorporate into your routine to address your own needs as a caregiver:

1. Maintain a Healthy Diet

Everyone eats. It's something you need to replenish your energy and keep going. 

However, eating healthy means you are more intentional about what you eat. Healthy eating habits are important for everyone, but they are essential for caregivers. For example, caregivers are at a higher risk for developing high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

As such you will want to plan your meals and make recipes that are low in calories and rich in fiber. Meal preparation can help you avoid eating junk food.
Don't forget to drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.

Moreover, you should avoid alcohol to stay well, as alcohol has a lot of adverse health consequences. Try consuming non-alcoholic beverages instead. You might also incorporate fruit juices and shakes to add variety to your diet.

 

2. Get a Good Night’s Sleep  

Caregivers are frequently deprived of restful sleep. Most caregivers do not get the recommended amount of 7 or more hours of sleep each night.

If you are unable to get enough sleep, you might find taking short naps during the day refreshing.

Power naps can keep you energized throughout busy days. Should you find your sleep problems persist you might schedule a checkup with your doctor, so you can avoid sleep deprivation. 

3. Move your Body

Maintaining your physical health is also critical for you as a caregiver.

Exercise can help you feel less sluggish and tired. Make physical fitness a part of your daily routine so your body develops endurance and stamina. By working out regularly, you will strengthen your cardiac health and muscular health.

You can try short endurance exercises that don’t require a lot of time such as walking, running, or jogging. Another option is to purchase online workout programs so you can exercise at home whenever you have the time.

Set goals for yourself. Making small changes can help you cope with the stress of caregiving. 

4. Incorporate Breaks into your Daily Routine

It is important to take a break if you want to maintain your health and well-being. There are days when you feel low and need to be gentle with yourself.

Take a short break from caregiving by asking a trustworthy friend, a family member, or a professional caregiver to help you with your responsibilities for some time. Enjoy your free time by watching a movie, going shopping, meeting friends, and enjoying a good meal.

You can also join a support group to find relief. Caregiver support groups can be helpful if you want to share your experiences.

 

5. Make Time for Prayer or Meditation 

You may find silent prayer or meditation to be relaxing. Fifteen minutes of quiet time can work wonders on your mental health. Prayer and meditation can provide you with a mini recharge.

Deep breathing exercises can also be incorporated into your daily routine to help you stay calm during stressful situations.

Take a deep breath and focus. It can be a time-out for your mind and the time to declutter your head from any toxic or distressing thoughts. Appreciate the time you have and release the tension slowly.

6. Take a Bubble Bath 

A hot water bubble bath is a way to reduce caregiver stress and anxiety. It is an amazing remedy to relax your muscles at the end of a long day.

You might drop a few drops of scented bath soap or scented oil and enjoy your me-time. You can also read a book or magazine, calming music, and candles to make your time worthwhile.

 

7. Treat Yourself to a Spa Experience

Take some time out of your busy schedule and go to a spa, salon, or wellness center. Taking care of your own health is as important as taking care of your loved one. A body massage can relax your body and mind. 

Another option is getting a manicure, pedicure, or facial to relax your body muscles. Wellness therapists typically offer yoga, meditation, and aromatherapy which are all beneficial to your mental health.

8. Decompress by Journaling 

As a family caregiver, you are usually overloaded as you care for your family in addition to working full-time. Sometimes you may feel anxious, tense, and stressed.

Your attitude as a caregiver may change from positive to negative, and you feel bothered and concerned about your loved one's well-being. This can lead to mental exhaustion. Try decompressing by journaling your thoughts in a diary. It is an effective way to vent your stress, anxiety, and tension.

You can also share everything with a trustworthy friend or family member who knows about your struggles.

9. Implement Stress Management techniques

Stress will be a recurring factor, depending on the condition of your senior loved one. However, your attitude can be impactful depending on the way you look at the whole situation.

For instance, as a family caregiver to a family member, you may feel more stressed out and discouraged if your loved one’s condition declines.

One of the common sources of stress is having too much on your plate. If that's the case, you can manage the situation by prioritizing which task is more important at that time.

You can also ask a family member, or friend, or reach out to a social worker to help you find alternatives to take on duties that you find stressful. There is no shame in asking for help.

10. Accept the Reality of your Loved One’s Situation

No matter how effectively you manage your caregiving responsibilities; there will always be things left out of your control. In some cases, your efforts to change the situation will only make you feel exhausted and frustrated. 

Accepting the reality of your loved one's medical condition is important. You may also want to take time to process the sadness you feel over the things that are not in your control.

This is especially important if the patient is an older adult and is experiencing diseases like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in which the condition of your loved one is likely to decline.

 

Remember, You Have the Right to Prioritize Self-Care

Caregiving is a selfless act, as you go out of your way to provide care for your loved ones. 

However, you also have a right to take care of yourself, take some time off, and enjoy your life.

Try to incorporate at least one self-care strategy into your daily routine at a time. Ultimately, we all are humans and need to feel loved and cared for  - even you!

Dr. Eboni Green

A Registered Nurse and family caregiver expert. She holds a Ph.D. in human services, with a specialization in health care administration. She has extensive experience focusing on caregivers' health and wellness, with an emphasis on caregiver stress, burnout, and related family conflicts. She has contributed to several publications and given presentations that focus on training, assessing, and supporting caregivers throughout their caregiving journeys. Green is also a published author and has written three books focusing on family caregiving: At the Heart of the Matter, Caregiving in the New Millennium, and Reflections from the Soul.

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