Freelance Contribution by Jason Lewis.
One of the most difficult aspects of being a caregiver is remembering to look after ourselves. Our job, even though it may be a labor of love, is to take care of another. Whether your loved one is in a nursing home, lives with you, or lives on his or her own, they deserve the best care you can provide. That’s why it is all-important to make sure you provide self-care in a multitude of ways.
Meet Your Basic Needs
Self-care starts by maintaining your health to feel your best. No matter how you compensate, nothing replicates a good night of sleep. If you find it hard to have restful nights, there are ways to improve how you sleep. Consistency is key, so go to bed and get up at the same time each day. However, if you can’t sleep, don’t stay in bed. Get up and move around a bit, then come back and try again. You should also keep your room cool and avoid bright lights, including the light from computer screens, before bed. Finally, avoid caffeine in the afternoon, and limit alcohol before bedtime.
Another important aspect of meeting your basic needs is fueling your body with healthy foods. A variety of fresh fruit and vegetables is the best way to start. If you are worried about vegetables being bland, use a heap of spices and herbs, both of which are healthful. To feel good, eat foods that are full of good bacteria such as natural yogurt, nuts, and seeds. Try to eat regularly throughout the day, so you don’t experience a dip in blood sugar and to keep your metabolism stable.
Look After Your Body
To build strength to help with your work, but also to feel your best, maintain your health by starting a workout regimen. Like sleep, consistency is the best way to make progress, so don’t be afraid to pace yourself. Start small, with only a few 30-minute sessions a week, to build your stamina. A slower buildup will keep you from burning out after only a few weeks of exercise. Working out can make you feel better physically and emotionally and a great boon in such a stressful line of work.
If you can, try to work out with other people. It will help give you motivation to go out and meet your commitments, but also it is simply more fun to exercise with a friend than to do so alone. And a workout that is fun is one you are more likely to stick with than one you dread.
Take Care of Your Soul
There is more to self-care than simply caring for your body. While important, it is equally essential to well-being to relax and find pursuits you enjoy. Give yourself permission to invest time in yourself, for no other reason than it makes you happy. Watch your favorite comedy show or movie. Spend time outdoors, hiking in nature or simply sitting on a bench at a park, reading a book. Speak to your friends and catch up. Dance to your favorite music. Whatever it is that gives you joy, take time to do it. You deserve to be happy.
These days, many people are just too busy to do the things they love. This is especially true for people who are taking care of their young children and their aging parents. If that’s the case for you, consider hiring out some daily tasks to make your life easier and free up time for yourself. Cleaning is one of the easiest and most time-consuming tasks to let go. Search for professionals near you online, read reviews, and hire someone with experience so you get time to spend on yourself and peace of mind that the job will be done well.
If you still have a hard time unwinding, even once you’ve found the time to do so, try something soothing like meditation. There are many ways you can meditate, so experiment to find one that works for you. Create a peaceful environment, focus on breathing slowly and deeply, and make yourself physically comfortable. If your back hurts, you won’t be paying attention to your mantra or clearing your mind. You’ll focus on the pain. Still, if you notice yourself breaking out of your meditative state, don’t think of it as failure. Allow the moment to happen, and move on. There is no right or wrong way to meditate or relax.
If you want to fully take care of another person, you have to take care of yourself first. If you feel exhausted, how will you see to the physically and mentally demanding tasks that must be done? Sleep well, eat right and for goodness’ sake, have some fun.