Caring for Caregivers: 5 Tips for a More Balanced Life
November is National Caregivers Month.
Caregiving can be a 24/7 job. Some say it is the hardest job in America.
Caregiving is an act of love. And, for caregivers to be successful, it is important to practice self care. This is easier said than done.
How do you provide care, and honor your commitments, without sacrificing your own health and well being?
Era Living’s experts from Resident and Family Supportive Programs say asking for help is key. They recommend these actions to maintain caregiver health — mind, body, and spirit.
Caregiver Tip #1: Practice mindfulness and relaxation.
This can be as simple as dedicating 15 minutes a day to letting go of stressful thoughts. Take five minutes to focus on deep breathing exercises, or prayer in the morning when you wake up. Or, give yourself a break with a nice, warm bath and observe the sounds and smells around you. Aim for one or two small acts of kindness toward yourself each day.
Caregiver Tip #2: Connect socially.
As a caregiver it can be difficult to find time for yourself, but staying connected with friends, family, and your community is important for your well being. Caregiving is physically and emotionally taxing work. Keeping your social connections alive supports your spirits. When possible meet with a friend or two over coffee, join a support group for caregivers, and / or attend a religious service.
Caregiver Tip #3: Find natural surroundings.
Walks outside, trips to nearby parks, and indoor gardens are a great way to take in some fresh air. Moving your body outside has been shown to relieve stress, restore mental energy, and improve concentration and focus. Plus a change in scenery is a good way to gain perspective, and get away, even if your time out of the home is brief.
Caregiver Tip #4: Get some exercise.
We all know physical activity can help release feel-good endorphins, and when you are caregiving the physicality of the work can be intense. Let your fitness fit your fancy. If you are physically exhausted, try a restorative yoga video in your home. If you have the energy, and flexibility to leave the home, get to a fitness class that makes you happy. This can be anything from Tai Chi to Zumba dancing. Don’t worry if you’re not great with the moves yet, allow yourself to laugh and enjoy. It’s all part of caring for you.
Caregiver Tip #5: Get help.
Trying to do everything yourself can leave you exhausted and depleted. Seek the help of family, friends, and community support. Other forms of support can come from respite care through in-home care services or adult day centers. Often, others are delighted to be of service through meal delivery, running errands for you, or staying in your home for a few hours so that you can get out for a break.