When caregivers are on call around the clock, they are often so selfless in their care of a loved one that they neglect to take care of themselves.
Did you know caregivers have a higher-than-normal incidence of getting sick? They can become so depleted that they cannot maintain the stamina to continue caring for others.
Don’t let this happen to you. Follow these 10 tips to nurture yourself physically, mentally and spiritually every day, even when you are at the bedside of another. Following these tips will help you find the health and happiness you deserve. And when you take care of yourself, you can care for your loved one even better.
1. Eat well-balanced meals
And do so on a regular schedule. Take a daily multivitamin. Drink six to eight glasses of water a day.
2. Exercise every day
Move your body daily, even if it’s simply 15 minutes of stretching, yoga, calisthenics or walking. Use the stairs to keep your circulation going.
3. Get outdoors
Fresh air renews the body and spirit — even if you only have time for a brief outing. When possible, open a window.
4. Get your zzz’s
Strive for a minimum of seven to eight hours of consecutive sleep in a 24-hour period. Nap when your loved one naps.
5. Treat yourself
That is, get treatments for your own aches and pains before they turn into something more serious.
6. Don’t ignore your emotions
Pay attention to your own feelings and emotions, and seek counseling if needed. Vent feelings to trusted family members or friends.
7. Take time for yourself
Use relaxation or stress management methods such as meditation, visualization and yoga. Books and videos are available to guide you in these techniques.
8. Read, pray or meditate for at least 15 minutes a day
Consume daily prayer books and helpful magazines like Today’s Caregiver and Caring Today, or books such as Chicken Soup for the Caregiver’s Soul to uplift your spirits. If you’re religious, seek the counsel of a spiritual leader you trust and respect.
9. Chuckle more often
Laugh, reminisce and share stories of happy times.
10. Ask for help
Friends, family and religious groups may be eager to assist and are only waiting to be asked and directed. Doing everything yourself deprives others of an opportunity to serve.