Caregivers often suppress their emotions to be available for those they care for. Though generous, it can lead to burnout, stress, and declining health, making the exhaustive task of caregiving all the more difficult. Regardless of whether you are a professional caregiver or are taking care of a family member, self-care needs to be a priority. You can only provide care from a place of health. Here are five essential tips to ensure your own well-being in the process of caregiving.
Practice Mind-Body Medicine
Mind-body medicine involves helping the mind and body relax. Some of the well-researched methods that allow you to de-stress as a caregiver include yoga, mindfulness, and tai-chi. Deep breathing is also a well-known technique where slow and regulated breathing eliminates negative thoughts.
By regularly practicing at least one of the mind-body techniques, caregivers can effectively calm their minds and think more clearly which translates into avoiding burnout.
When caring for someone long-term, especially terminally-ill patients, it is natural for caregivers to feel that they must be at the person’s side every single second of the day. If it is a close family member you are caring for, the need to always be present is underlined by a feeling of guilt. What if something terrible happens when I am not around? This question is common when someone suggests a caregiver to take a break.
Know that by not taking breaks, you are wearing yourself down which only makes you inefficient in your caregiving duties. Instead, consider taking short breaks throughout the day and even short vacations when possible. Ask someone reliable (a friend or a professional) to step into your shoes as a caregiver temporarily while you are away. Professional respite services have been researched for their efficiency in reducing the burdened feeling in caregivers.
Although nutrition is essential for a healthy body and mind, unsurprisingly, many caregivers ignore their meals. This is especially true when caring for someone with specific dietary requirements. Studies have shown that a caregiver’s diet changes drastically over the course of caregiving. While performing caregiving duties, it is crucial to eat balanced meals with whole and nutrition-dense foods to give your body that extra boost and avoid fatigue.
Stress due to pressing responsibilities can also lead to inflammation, which can be combated by sticking to a healthy diet, exercising and resting more. Stick to simple, healthy recipes so that cooking is not a drain on your time and exercise in small, do-able 15-minute increments.
De-Stress with Natural Aids
The importance of de-stressing can never be overstated. While meditation, a good night’s rest, and deep breathing can help you reduce daily stress, there could be days when your patients need extra attention which can leave you with no time to practice these techniques or even get adequate sleep. On such occasions, turning to natural supplements could work wonders in helping yourself cope.
You could use aromatherapy by applying essential oils such as lavender into your surroundings or you can try natural supplements such as magnesium, valerian root, and CBD oil, all of which are known for their soothing properties that reduce anxiety.
Join Support Groups
Giving care could be so taxing that your social life may go out of the window. You may feel that you have no time for friends, but by isolating yourself, you are further neglecting your personal self-care.
Having said that, caregivers often feel that friends and family who do not have such responsibilities fail to understand and accommodate them, leading to further bottled-up feelings. If you feel that way, there are support groups specially meant for caregivers. These groups are offered by various hospitals and welfare organizations. Join such a community to remain connected with people who understand. Studies have shown that community support goes a long way for people who take care of terminally ill patients.
Caring for someone is a noble and uplifting task, but do not forget that caregivers are also humans and need care too. you are well, the person you are caring for will be better off. Take time for yourself, practice relaxation techniques, and never hesitate to ask for help.
Erika Long loves corgis, curry and comedy. Always searching for the next great snuggle, flavor or laugh, she inspires people to live their best life now. When not writing, Erika can be found at her local brewery dominating Harry Potter trivia night.