Caregivers, Don’t Neglect Your Own Needs
Posted by: Harry Cline – 6/9/18
You can’t take care of others if you aren’t in good condition yourself. That’s why your well-being — both mental and physical — is so important for you and everyone else in your life, including the elderly that you look after. Your demanding schedule may not allow a lot of free time, but there are a few things you can pencil in to help you achieve a peaceful state of mind and body and be your best at work and at home.
A Good Workout
That alarm already goes off too early, and you’re not sure if you want to rob anymore precious sleep from your tired body. But you can, and you should. You already know that exercise burns calories and keeps you trim, but you may not be aware of the other benefits of a brief jog in the morning or a session of aerobics.
A good workout gives you an immediate mood boost thanks to the release of “happy chemicals” in your brain called dopamine, and there are long-term effects as well. Subjecting yourself to low-level physical stress by raising your pulse and breath rate on a regular basis will make other events in your life easier to handle, a sure way to relieve anxiety. And you can always do it in the evening if that suits you.
A Healthy Diet
And that brings us to what you’re putting in your body on a daily basis. Nutritious meals are imperative for staying on your feet at work, and you should be extra attentive to what you eat if you’re adding exercise to the mix. There are a number of diets on the market being sold as a panacea, but don’t believe the hype and stick to the basics.
One thing you definitely need is plenty of vegetables. You can’t live happily without them as they have a positive effect on your mental state as well the physical side of things. Although restaurants are a nice treat every now and again, you should try to avoid eating out when possible. When you eat out you can’t easily control what goes in the dish you’re ordering, and cooks go a bit heavy on the butter and salt.
A Little Meditation
As busy as your life is, it may seem a bit silly to settle down in the lotus position and think about nothing, but it’s worth it. “A vast literature of controlled studies has found that mindfulness meditation is related to improved mental health across a variety of disorders,” says Mindful, a website devoted to mental well-being and those disorders include anxiety and depression.
You’ll also get a better night’s rest, which means waking up more refreshed to tackle the day’s duties. While it may not put you down immediately, it does clear your head and shut off distractions so that you sleep deeply and don’t wake up in the middle of the night tossing and turning.
A Soothing Massage
A little indulgent, yes, but pleasure is a part of life, and this is a little treat that will do wonders for your well-being besides just helping you relax. There’s research behind the benefits of a good rub down, according to Science Daily. In the short term, you’ll experience less tightness in the muscles, better blood flow, along with reduced stress and anxiety.
The effects are cumulative, and just one session a month is sufficient for someone who isn’t suffering from any serious physical injuries and just needs to unwind. Sounds like quite a deal.
A Helping Hand
It may seem counterintuitive to ask for help as you’re normally the helper. However, taking a few chores out of the routine would give you an extra few hours to make some of those little life changes that you’ve been reading about. Hiring a house cleaner to come in once month would free up some space in the schedule, as would calling a dog walker to take your four-legged friend for a walk around the block.
Take a few deep breaths before you plunge into rearranging your lifestyle. Starting all at once is stressful in itself, so make one small change at a time. Perhaps today is the day to start eating more vegetables? A nice salad would be just perfect.
About the Author
Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.