Being a family caregiver is a great responsibility. In this role, you’re tasked to care for and protect a loved one’s health, safety, and well-being. This role requires dedication as it comes with many challenges. Apart from this, a caregiver needs patience, knowledge, and skills to be effective in their role. Moreover, the family caregiver should also be able to maintain their physical wellness, internal motivation, and emotional stability to ensure they’re capable of helping others.
When providing care to the sick, disabled, or elderly, people commonly use the terms ‘caretaker’ and ‘caregiver’ interchangeably. However, these two terms have certain differences. For instance, being a caregiver means adopting a more balanced and practical approach to providing care, whereas caretakers assume responsibility for every experience their loved one has. The caregivers’ approach to care is more pragmatic since it acknowledges that some things are beyond their control. Moreover, allowing the patient to resolve some matters in their capacity can benefit both parties.
Aside from this example, another aspect by which caretaker vs caregiver differ is that caregivers prioritize self-care. If you’re a care provider, looking after your welfare is critical to ensure that you can perform your duties effectively. It will also make your caregiving experience a rewarding and fulfilling one in the long run.
If you’re a family caregiver and want some self-care tips to help you feel and perform your best in your role, continue reading this article.
Schedule Personal Breaks
Taking a break after a long, tiring day will provide relief and allow you to recharge and stay motivated. Moreover, scheduling regular intervals for yourself helps you avoid exhaustion or burnout. During your break, you can opt to step outside for some fresh air, stretch your arms and legs, and do anything you find enjoyable, such as listening to music or reading.
Manage Your Stress Levels Effectively
Often, experiencing stress becomes a part of a caregiver’s life, and it can be challenging to overcome for many. However, it’s essential to keep your stress levels in check and learn how to manage them healthily. This way, you won’t encounter problems in your relationships with others and improve your overall quality of life.
There are several ways to cope with stress, such as learning relaxation strategies, managing techniques, and forming healthy habits that will strengthen your defense against triggers. You can equip yourself with knowledge and learn these strategies to manage your stress levels better as you perform your role.
Take Care Of Your Nutrition
Eating healthy and well-balanced meals will give you the strength and energy to perform your duties as a caregiver. When you miss your meals, it can cause irritability and fatigue. So, eating scheduled meals regularly throughout the day is extremely important. It is also best to avoid processed foods and alcohol, as both increase inflammation in the body and affect sleep quality. Moreover, your diet can significantly impact your mental and emotional well-being and your ability to overcome challenges and stress.
For these reasons, you need to take good care of your nutrition and carefully select the kind of food that you consume regularly.
The bone and muscle movement during physical activity will help keep your body strong, improve blood circulation, and support many bodily systems such as the respiratory and digestive systems. Additionally, exercising is a natural way for the body to release feel-good hormones such as dopamine and endorphins, which can help keep you happy and motivated as you perform your duties as a caregiver.
While it may require time, discipline, and dedication, it’s possible to maintain a workout routine while providing care for others. For instance, you can enroll at a gym or attend exercise classes during your free time. You can also incorporate more physical movement into your daily routine by taking short walks during breaks or by doing house chores as needed.
Get Adequate Rest
Supervising and caring for a loved one would often require energy and effort, which is why you’ll need to get adequate rest regularly. However, many working adults nowadays struggle with sleep disorders due to chronic stress, overstimulation, or mood disorders.
If you’re experiencing difficulties getting adequate rest, this can be a sign that you need to improve your sleep hygiene. To do this, you may have to make lifestyle changes such as limiting your caffeine intake, improving your daily nutrition, allocating time to wind down before bedtime, and reducing screen time. Meanwhile, you can also consider getting professional help from a doctor or psychologist.
Set Aside Time For Recreation
Another effective way to avoid burnout as you perform your caregiving role is by dedicating time to engaging in recreational activities. Doing so allows you to take a mental break from your routine, express yourself creatively, and have unique experiences outside your duties. These are all essential aspects of maintaining your health and well-being, which is why having time for recreation is a must for all family caregivers.
However, some may find scheduling time away from home challenging, especially if the patient requires round-the-clock supervision. If you’re required to spend most of your days at home, you can consider engaging in stimulating and enjoyable indoor activities such as reading, playing games, painting, cooking, and making crafts. This way, you can make the most out of your downtime and pursue your interests.
Conclusion: How to practice self-care if you are a caregiver
Being there for someone when they need you is a core value that you want to provide. As a caregiver, you must prioritize your health, well-being, and personal needs to avoid exhaustion and burnout. You can practice self-care by taking sufficient breaks, having a healthy, balanced diet, exercising regularly, and allocating time for the things you enjoy. Aside from these, you’ll also need support from loved ones, friends, and people you trust.
Taking good care of your needs as an individual allows you to perform your role more effectively and feel fulfilled in your life. You’ll also find providing care for a loved one to be a more rewarding experience if you’re able to care for your well-being.