Working as a caregiver is one of the hardest jobs there is, and many people don’t get paid for it, as they’re simply taking care of a loved one who needs daily assistance. Not only is it physically taxing, it can also be mentally and emotionally exhausting, especially if the patient is someone you love. It’s never easy to watch a loved one suffer through pain or distress, but it can be difficult to focus on your own needs when your patient needs so much.
Making sure you are taking care of your mental health and physical well-being are essential to providing the best care. It’s nearly impossible to be at your best for your patient when you’re tired or stressed. If you are in this state, you won’t be of much help to them no matter how hard you try. Think of ways you can reduce stress and anxiety at home and make self-care a priority; exercise daily, eat a well-balanced diet, get enough sleep, and look for healthy habits that will keep you feeling good.
Keep reading for some great tips on how to focus on yourself when you’re a caregiver.
Just about everyone has some form of stress in their lives, but some handle it better than others. Learning how to reduce stress — and how to cope with it when it comes along — will help boost your mood and your ability to face the difficult challenges that each day brings. You can start by getting organized; this will ensure that you’re not rushing in the mornings, especially if you have children. Getting a handle on your finances will also help, as will creating a budget.
Get good sleep
Exhaustion can be quick to set in when you’re taking care of someone else, so it’s imperative to get good quality sleep. This means creating a relaxing place to rest with light-blocking curtains and making sure the temperature is just right. Investing in the right bedding and mattress is also essential, especially if your caregiving job is hard on your back. Making sure you get the right amount of sleep, as well as the right quality, will help you stay on top of all your responsibilities with renewed stamina.
The things you eat and drink can have a profound effect on the way you feel. Many people tend to gravitate toward comfort foods when they’re stressed or tired, so it’s important to keep healthy items around the house, including easy-to-grab snacks. Granola bars, yogurt, low-fat string cheese, nuts, and fruit are some of the best options. You can also prepare well-balanced meals ahead of time and heat them up when you’re ready for them. This will help you avoid the fast-food trap on nights when you’re tired or busy.
Make time for yourself
If you work long days and find that you don’t have much time to do the things you enjoy, it’s important to rearrange some things so you have some downtime. Even if it’s just half an hour at the end of the day to read a book or watch your favorite television show, spending time doing something you really want to do will help you relax and boost your mental health at the same time. Consider getting up fifteen minutes earlier, or use your lunch break to take some time for meditation.
Caring for yourself when you’re in charge of taking care of someone else can be difficult to get used to, so it’s important to start small. Remember that your health and well-being affects your patient as well, because it’s hard to do a good job when you’re tired or stressed.
About the Author
June is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.