Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Caregiver’s New Year’s Resolution: Self-Care!

By Deanna Leyh

It’s a new year, which means it’s time for people to make their New Year’s resolutions. Most people make resolutions about eating healthier or going to a gym, but why not focus on your overall well-being and make a resolution to take better care of yourself altogether? Not just physical health, but also mental, emotional, and social well-being. Self-care is especially important for caregivers of older adults, and should always be a focus for them. So for those family caregivers, let’s make 2018’s resolution to be better self-care! Here are some ways that you can improve your own self-care and focus on taking care of you.

1)      Take a deep breath. Stress is something that many caregivers face on a daily basis, and deep breathing is an easy and effective way to combat caregiver stress and burnout. Deep breathing has a relaxing effect on the body and the mind.

2)      Practice mindfulness. Do you ever drive somewhere, get there, and then think, “I don’t remember anything of my ride over here”? That’s an example of not being mindful, or aware of the present moment. Take time each day to take in and appreciate the current moment. Notice your surroundings and pay attention to how you feel and your senses.

3)      Take a walk regularly. Walking and regular exercise is not just great for your physical health, but also a great way to get you a break from caregiving and time to yourself, which can sometimes be hard to come by.

4)      Give yourself a break. While it is also good take a break from caregiving, it’s also good to be lenient and not too hard on yourself. Caregiving is a tough job! Ask anyone else who has ever been in a caregiving role, and they’re agree with you. It’s okay if the laundry piles up a little or you don’t wash the dishes right away.

5)      Accept help that others offer. As a caregiver, it can be tough to recognize the need for help from others. We feel that we can or should be able to do everything ourselves or that people don’t really mean it when they offer help. However, people often don’t offer their assistance without meaning it, so take them up on it. If they can make dinner so you don’t have to cook or can watch your loved one for a day, try saying “Yes, thank you”!

6)      Do something fun for yourself. While you’re accepting that help from family or friends, have them watch your loved one so that you can plan a weekend getaway or meet up with friends you haven’t seen in a while. Take time to read that book you’ve been wanting to crack open or whatever it is that brings you joy and happiness.

When you’re so focused on taking care of someone else, it’s easy to put your own care on the back-burner. But remember, you are just as important to take care of! If something happens to you, what would happen to your loved one? Remind yourself of that and keep that focus on your self-care this year so that you can improve your well-being and continue to be an amazing caregiver!