While caregivers give so very much of themselves to their patients, they often neglect their own health and even their own needs. Providing care for the elderly is a particularly mentally and physically taxing job. Without attending your own needs, you may not be able to give the quality care needed. A proper diet, good sleep, and learning strategies to address the mental and emotional strain are necessary. To provide the best care for either patients or loved ones, consider these 5 self-care tips for caregivers.
- Know Your Personal Boundaries and Barriers
The fault and strength of several caregivers is that they give too much. To truly provide what your patient or loved one needs, you must understand that you have personal boundaries and barriers and learn how to use them as well as work with them. Caregivers tend to have barriers that make them question if they are being selfish for wanting to put their own needs above their patients. Others feel that they are unworthy to even consider doing so. They care so deeply that they take situations that cannot possibly be in their control and make it their own responsibility. Accept and remove these barriers to be a more effective caregiver.
- Reduce Your Own Stress
Since caregiving is a stressful environment, it is important that caregivers find ways to reduce the stress they may experience in their own lives. After you’ve removed your barriers, you can then accept that you need time off to take care of your own personal needs and responsibilities. Stress reduction techniques may be needed before you enter a job as well. Meditation, reading, stretching, listening to your favorite music, or even playing a game on an app are some of the techniques that professional caregivers will use before beginning or in the middle of their caregiving routines.
- Life Continues with a Life Source
Caring for the elderly can be especially traumatic for caregivers without their even knowing. As we lose loved ones and patients, it can be difficult to not remain in those dark and depressed emotions and remember instead that life continues. Because caregivers become so attached to their patients, it is difficult to remain constantly objective in dark situations. To combat these feelings, find what several experts call a life source. This could be a hobby that makes you happy, regular coffee dates with friends, or time spent with your family.
- Watch Your Diet
A caregiver’s job is demanding not only mentally but physically. The atmosphere is often so fast-paced that a proper diet becomes the last thing on a caregiver’s mind. This can have a dramatic impact on your mental state. Just as you would advise your own patients to eat healthy, so should you. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and avoiding fast foods at all costs can help to improve your mental state of being as well as give you needed energy to tackle the job ahead. Taking time to prepare or cook your meals can also be a form of stress relief or life source.
- Don’t Skip the Exercise
Although it may seem impossible to do, try your hardest not to skip daily exercise, even if this means taking a short walk. As a caregiver, you know that your patients need daily physical activity for a variety of reasons related to their physical and mental health. You are no exception to that rule. Exercise releases endorphins which can help positively stimulate the mind—something caregivers need regularly. Exercise has also been proven to be a form of stress-therapy as can it function as a life source. If you are able, try to exercise for a minimum of 20 minutes three days a week. Due to their nature, caregivers will naturally put other’s needs before their own. Remembering to take care of your own needs will not only allow you to provide care more effectively, but it will make you a living example for your patients and loved ones.
Author’s Bio: Marcus Clarke regularly blogs at psysci, a psychology, science blog that examines the latest research and explains how findings can impact and improve people’s lives. You can reach Marcus at firstname.lastname@example.org