Have you recently become the caregiver for someone you love? Taking care of a loved one can give you a sense of fulfillment, but it can also give you some extra stress. Depression and anxiety are common issues for caregivers, so it is important for people who are new to the role to use self-care to stay well. Here are some simple self-care tips for any new caregiver.
Find Ways to Keep Moving
Regular exercise is essential to keeping yourself strong and healthy enough to continue providing care. Try to go to the gym a few times a week, or take a daily walk to get your muscles moving. If you’re a senior whose budget is getting in the way of your wellness, know that there are programs that can help. For example, SilverSneakers offers discounted access to hundreds of fitness facilities across the country, so it’s an economical way for seniors to stay fit. If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you may be eligible for SilverSneakers. With a membership, you can swim, take an aerobics class, or do strength training.
Be Good to Yourself
Stress relief comes in many forms, but two of the easiest ways to find relief are by taking tasks off your plate or doing something nice for yourself. When it comes to cooking, cleaning the house, or walking the dog, look for ways to outsource those tasks and buy time for yourself. And there are myriad benefits to doing something nice for yourself. If you’ve been pining for a massage or a haircut, make an appointment and treat yourself.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Although you may not think of sleep as self-care, it’s actually incredibly good for both your mind and body. Not only does your body heal itself while you sleep, but a full seven to nine hours of slumber will help you regulate stress hormones and improve your immune system. The quality of your sleep has a lot to do with your environment, from the temperature of your bedroom to the mattress you’re sleeping on. Notice some problems? Then it’s time to make changes.
So, if you’ve been sleeping poorly on an older mattress, maybe now is the time to take the plunge and buy a new one. For example, many people have found success with a Purple mattress, which can accommodate just about any sleep style, though it does feel completely unique. However, it’s important to make note of your sleep style and any problems you might have; if you suffer from chronic pain, for instance, then you should focus on a mattress that caters to this particular issue. For instance, a Tuft & Needle mattress is supportive and bouncy and can help address back pain. The bottom line is pretty simple: Do whatever you can to provide yourself with a fantastic sleep environment so you’ll rest easier at night.
Get Outside Each Day
So many times, caregivers spend their days inside with loved ones or taking care of household responsibilities. But staying inside can leave you feeling restless, stressed out and depressed. Making time to get outdoors can improve your mental health and even benefit some essential processes in your body. You can take advantage of this energy and emotional boost by taking a few minutes each day to enjoy the outdoors. Bring your coffee and breakfast outside, or go on a morning walk with your loved one. Getting outside and being close to nature also relieves stress, so get out there and get some fresh air for at least a few minutes every day.
Gain Peace in Your Life
Caring for an ill loved one can be extremely taxing on your emotions. It can be difficult for caretakers to stay optimistic when they see their loved one in pain, but learning to focus on the positive can bring the peace you need into your life. Being positive is important to fight off severe symptoms of depression and anxiety. Practice positivity by taking the focus off of what’s going wrong, and try to think of what’s going right. You can even condition yourself to appreciate the positives in life if you work at it over time. Above all, practice gratitude for all that you have in your life.
Connect with Others
As a caregiver, you are committed to the care of your loved one, but don’t let that keep you from connecting with the other people you love. Loneliness and isolation can be real issues for caregivers, so take the time to reach out to your friends and family members. If you feel like getting out of the house for these important social connections, consider hiring someone to help care for your loved one. Hiring an in-home nurse or care provider will give you more freedom when it comes to your own life. That’s important to prevent feelings of isolation and despair when you are caring for someone you love.
Being a new caregiver can be stressful. While it’s important to provide quality care for your loved one, it’s also important to take care of yourself. Self-care is essential for any new caregiver, and anyone dealing with extra stress in their life.