Taking care of someone is a big job that often requires quite a bit of physical strength and emotional reserve. It can be difficult to manage your own life around someone else’s needs, and sometimes, that job can take a toll on your physical and mental health. For that reason, it’s imperative to make sure you take good care of yourself, learn to cope with stress and anxiety, and find ways to relax and focus on your own needs once in a while.
Fortunately, there are several simple ways you can do this. Managing your stress may seem like a difficult task, but there are things you can do to help yourself learn to cope in a healthy way no matter what is going on in your life. Not only will this allow you to focus on your own needs and boost your mental health, it will also help you find the motivation and energy you need to help your loved one or patient.
Keep reading for some great tips on how to practice self-care when you’re a caregiver.
Get enough rest
Adequate sleep–or a lack of it–can be one of the biggest reasons a person feels unable to cope with stress or anxiety. When you aren’t able to rest, your physical and mental abilities are reduced, making even the simplest of daily tasks difficult. There are several things you can do to help yourself get better rest, but it all starts with a good mattress that addresses your unique sleep needs. If your bedding is more than ten years old, or if you wake up in the morning feeling stiff and unrested, it’s time for a new mattress; be sure to check online for ones with good reviews.
Take a timeout
It can be overwhelming to try to handle everything in your own life when you’re taking care of someone else’s every need, but it’s important to try to take some time for yourself when you can. Whether that means heading out of town for an overnight trip or just sitting with a good book at the end of the day, think of small ways you can reduce stress and have some time to yourself. This isn’t always easy for caregivers to do, so talk to family members or coworkers to see if anyone can help out.
Caregivers are more at risk than others for symptoms of depression or anxiety, and it’s common for them to not get enough rest or eat well-balanced meals every day. When you don’t eat right or stay hydrated, your mood and energy level can bottom out, leaving you feeling exhausted and irritable. If your schedule during the day (or night) is hectic, consider packing yourself several small, easy-to-eat snacks that will keep your blood sugar stable and help you get the nutrients you need. Cut-up veggies and hummus, string cheese, whole-wheat crackers, yogurt, and water or 100-percent fruit juice are great starts.
When you get some time to yourself, make an effort to find a way to treat yourself. Get a massage or pedicure, spend some time doing something you love, or cook yourself a delicious meal. Finding small, healthy ways to make yourself happy will allow you to relax a little and take the weight of your job as a caregiver off your shoulders.
Feeling better when you spend so much time taking care of someone else can be difficult because it can lead to guilt or anxiety. Try to keep in mind that it’s just as important for your patient’s well-being as it is for yours, because you can’t be your best self when you’re tired or stressed out.