Those who care for others know what is required to achieve a healthy and meaningful life. But while caregiving is a rewarding and essential service to provide, it can be difficult and demanding work. It’s not uncommon for those who provide care to short-change their own.
The nature of caregivers might be to put the needs of others first, but it’s critical that you also take care of yourself. If you could use a little help at self care, these 7 suggestions may get you started.
Self care for the caregiver: tips to consider
- Eat a healthy diet
To provide quality and compassionate care, a reserve of stamina is needed. Unfortunately, caregivers may find little energy left over to care for themselves after a challenging shift at work.
Eating well is one feature that provides the needed energy yet is often sacrificed. Planning, shopping and preparing a nutritious meal can seem overwhelming after a long day. The temptation to substitute snacks, fast or processed foods or to skip a meal altogether can run high.
Preparing weekly meals ahead of time, cooking enough to ensure leftovers and sharing the task are all solutions that can provide you with healthy food during your work week and quickly get you off your feet.
- Exercise regularly
The benefits of exercise include improved cardiovascular, digestive and immune system functions. The increased endorphins produced from physical activity can also provide a boost to those whose responsibilities bring an elevated level of stress. The improvement to your mood and sleep, as well as decreased levels of anxiety and stress are helpful as well.
The power of exercise extends far beyond getting in better physical shape. A routine that you enjoy and will commit to will bring benefits so if push-ups aren’t of interest, consider dancing, swimming or walking.
- Take care of your emotional health
You’re responsible at work to help take care of others’ physical and emotional health needs. But for many caregivers, returning home also means the caring continues, possibly for children, spouses or older parents. And the responsibilities don’t end there.
Be intentional in how you’ll take care of your own health. Time may be limited but even 15-20 minutes can make a difference. Start or end your day with a walk, meditation or relaxation breathing. Take a hot bath with instructions not to be disturbed if possible or read every night before you go to sleep.
- Spend time with friends and family
After spending time caring for others, don’t forget to allow yourself to be cared for – and about – as well. Family and friends who understand the type of work you do and the stress that may result can offer a nurturing and relaxing respite.
Look for those you can trust to talk about any frustrations or concerns. Take a break and spend time with others, taking yourself momentarily out of your work. Have fun, catch up, laugh and join in activities.
- Get enough sleep
Sleep is often treated as a luxury. When we’re short on time, our sleep hours are often the first that we borrow from. Instead, we need to recognize the role that a good night’s sleep plays in our overall health and make it a priority.
Getting the right amount of quality sleep can protect and promote your mental and physical health, brain function, quality of life and even safety. Lack of sleep can lead to problems with how well you think, react, work, learn and get along with others. Strive for at least 7 hours daily.
- Remain active and engaged in life
Regardless of your job, it’s important to have a clear break between work, home and your personal life. As dedicated as you are to provide the highest level of care possible, decide to apply that same level of commitment to your own health and quality of life.
You may feel there aren’t enough hours in the day but start small and build from there. Participate in an activity you enjoy, make a regular lunch date with friends, go on a date night with your partner or spend mornings playing with your children in the park.
- Ask for help when needed
Those in the caregiving profession are at an increased risk for burnout. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, take action:
- Increased irritability
- Trouble sleeping
- Increased feelings of frustration or loss of patience
- Not eating or overeating
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed
- Becoming ill more frequently
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, talk to your supervisor. If you’re also caring for others at home, reach out for help there as well. Learn about local resources that may be available or ask other family members to step up and pitch in.
Joining the team at Sinceri Senior Living
Sinceri Senior Living specializes in independent living, assisted living and memory care, fostering deep bonds between those who live and work in our communities – just like families.
We extend our commitment in creating this welcoming environment to our employees who form strong relationships with the residents and their coworkers. In fact, many of our team members think of the community they work in as their second home because of such strong connections.
The caregiver’s role is to first make our residents feel safe and secure. We strive to ensure everyone we hire is generous, compassionate and as committed as we are to provide excellent service at every opportunity.
We understand the stress that caregivers can experience and the challenge in trying to stay one step ahead of what a resident or family member might need or desire. We fully support their efforts as it truly takes a team to provide quality senior care.
If you’re interested in becoming a care partner with Sinceri Senior Living as we strive together to exceed expectations, we hope you’ll be in touch.
We also invite you to download our complimentary guide, Simple Self-Care for Caregivers and CNAs: 6 Ways to Take Care of Yourself so You can Care for Others, which includes helpful tips and steps you might try.