Why Self-Care is So Important for Caregivers
11 February 2021
Being a caregiver for someone is an important yet sometimes stressful role to play. Caregiving can be physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing over time so it is essential that caregivers practice self-care regularly.
The United States population is continuing to get older on average, which is increasing the need for qualified caregivers. In fact, around 1 in 3 adults already provide care to other adults as informal caregivers. This can be a sick spouse, disabled child, or an older parent.
The role these people play is so important for their families, that they must ensure their own well-being in order to provide adequate care. Caregiving can be frustrating and isolating by nature and those providing care can experience high levels of stress. It’s essential that caregivers control their stress levels over time to avoid developing more serious health problems such as diabetes, depression, or heart disease.
Some common signs of caregiver stress include:
Sadness or depression
Frequent bouts of anger and irritation
Caregiving doesn’t have to lead to these problems if stress is managed effectively by the individual. In fact, our bodies react to stress through a natural “relaxation response” that is controlled by the parasympathetic nervous system. This relaxation response can be activated through various mind-body practices.
So what can caregivers do to reduce their stress levels and maintain high levels of physical, mental, and emotional health? We’ve listed some great techniques to do exactly that. Keep reading to learn more!
Make Time for Your Self-Care
As a caregiver, it can be easy to forget about your own needs and instead focus on the person in need of care. However, it is so important to take care of yourself first in order to provide great care to others. This can be accomplished by carving out time in the day to take care of your own needs. Schedule a portion of each day to address things that you need to feel balanced, focused, and fully charged. Doing so will result in a more positive caregiving experience for everyone involved.
Find Healthy Outlets for Stress
Setting some goals for healthy eating, movement, and sleep can do wonders to regulate caregiver stress. These areas can become easily forgotten or neglected when looking after someone else. Caregivers can start by setting small goals in each area to build up consistency over time.
For example, deciding to go for a 20-minute morning walk can improve overall health dramatically while requiring minimal time and effort on the caregiver’s part. Stretching can also be very helpful for caregivers experiencing tired muscles or aches and pains in certain parts of the body. Stretching helps create space in the body, loosens knots, and provides relief to overworked muscles.
Yoga and meditation are excellent ways to trigger the body’s natural stress-fighting capabilities. They help people focus on deep breathing and ways to calm the mind amid distractions. Focusing on our breathing can be very helpful during stressful situations or when we’re trying to relax.
For healthy eating habits, meal prepping and time-saving devices can help improve nutrition. Try batch cooking or crock-pots to make meals conveniently and without a lot of effort. Eating home-cooked meals reduces the need to eat out and find quick meals from fast-food providers. Chronic stress can cause increased inflammation throughout the body so it can be helpful to cook healthy foods instead of highly processed meals.
Connect with Others
At the end of the day, caregivers need support and connection just like anyone else. Connecting with other caregivers and communities can help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Other people can provide understanding, insights, and support to caregivers when they need it the most.
Friends and family can also be great sources of support and assistance for caregivers. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Set some time to connect with your loved ones and unwind on a regular basis.
As you can see, there are many great ways in which caregivers can reduce stress and improve their well-being. Caregiving can be stressful and demanding, but it doesn’t have to damage our health in the long-run.
By incorporating healthy habits and making time for their own needs, caregivers can replenish their minds and bodies as needed. By serving from a full cup, caregivers can create a more positive and enjoyable care experience for both themselves and the people they look after.
To learn how Rose’s Agency Home Care can help improve your quality of life, please contact us by clicking here.