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  • Caroline Hammond

What Caregivers Should Know About the Benefits of Self-Care

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

Harry Cline is creator of and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.

What Caregivers Should Know About the Benefits of Self-Care

Woman caring for an elderly lady

Taking care of an aging or disabled relative is challenging, especially if you have kids and work a full-time job. The stress of being a primary caretaker can even affect your mental health. According to research, at least 20% of caregivers experience depression, and the numbers may be as high as 40%. To keep yourself from burning out, you must make self-care a priority. Here are some tips and habits to keep in mind.

Connect With Others

Being a caregiver can feel isolating, especially if it's full-time. Make sure you connect with friends and family regularly. Joining a book club or community sports team are also great ways to stay connected.

Make Exercise a Habit

Exercise is good for your mental and physical health since it helps you lose weight and releases serotonin, a hormone that boosts your mood. For best results, try to make exercise part of your routine. If you don't have time for a traditional workout, you can incorporate physical activity into your day:

  • Walk to lunch

  • Take the stairs

  • Ride your bike to work

  • Park in a far spot when you go to the grocery store

  • Walk the dog every day

Learn About Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a relatively easy way to decrease anxiety and boost your sense of well-being. As a philosophy, mindfulness focuses on being present, and there are many ways to accomplish this:

  • Mindful eating

  • Breathing exercises

  • Silent body scan

The results are a calmer state of mind and increased cognitive function. Consider setting aside a space for meditation and relaxation. Taking even 10 minutes a day to pause and meditate can help you better cope with the challenges and stresses of caregiving.

Read Books

If you need help adjusting to your role as a caregiver, reading books on the subject may be beneficial. On the other end of the spectrum, you can use fiction as a means of escape. Sometimes stepping outside yourself and into your favorite story can be the best form of self-care.

Get Enough Sleep

A good night's sleep does wonders for the mind and body, but many people don't get their full eight hours. Setting an alarm for bedtime is one way to get in the habit of going to sleep early. Ofcourse, the quality of sleep also matters. To get a more restful snooze, try these tips:

  • Turn off screens half an hour before bed

  • Create an exercise routine

  • Cut off caffeine six hours before bedtime

  • Meditate right before bed

Ask for Help

As a caregiver, the weight of meeting your loved one's needs falls on your shoulders. However, it shouldn't be solely your responsibility. If you find yourself worn thin, you have plenty of resources:

  • Religious organizations

  • Non-profit organizations

  • Community volunteers

  • Friends and family

If you have the money, you should consider hiring professionals for household chores. For example, if you're putting off cleaning your windows due to a busy schedule, hire a professional window cleaning services.

Create a Sanctuary

Everyone needs a space where they can relax. You can create this sanctuary in your own house with thoughtful interior design:

  • Greenery

  • Natural materials

  • Aromatherapy

  • Comfy furnishings

Practice Gratitude

It may sometimes feel like there's little to be grateful for, but psychologists say that expressing gratitude for small things can increase happiness and even support mental health. You can cultivate gratitude with the following activities:

  • Make a list of good things that happened today.

  • Keep a gratitude journal.

  • Write a thank-you note to someone who helped you recently.

Caregiving requires a generous spirit, but it's important not to give too much of yourself. If you want to provide the best care for your loved one, you need to make time for yourself. With the proper self-care, you can avoid burnout.

This article was kIndly contributed by Harry Cline is creator of and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers.

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