Self Care for Caretakers

Taking care of someone can be an emotionally and physically exhausting task. Whether you take care of your loved ones or others as part of your profession, you are bound to feel stressed out. It’s important to remember that you can’t work continuously for weeks or months until they feel better again. It would help if you charged your batteries every day to reduce mistakes and focus on your work without distractions.

When you continuously take care of someone, you might lead to burnout or get additional pressure. The pressure and stress will include social withdrawal, family conditions, and financial strain. Burnout is a condition that involves symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, irritability, sleeping disorders, hopelessness, and social isolation. Exposure to repeated stress will harm your physical and mental health, resulting in burnout. 

The symptoms of burnout include:

• Digestive distress

• Weak immune system

• Irritability

• Exhaustion

• Pain

• Headaches

Your body naturally controls stress levels. You can refer to this counter-stress mechanism as a relaxation response. With nervous system regulation, you can activate this response by performing various relaxation activities such as meditation. Tai Chi and yoga are other deep relaxation techniques.

Ways for Self-care as a Caretaker

1. Get Enough Breaks

When you take care of someone 24 hours a day, you need to take some time out for yourself. Take a 30-minute break twice a day. Try finding someone, such as a friend or an acquaintance, to replace you for a while. Taking care of someone in need is your priority, but remember to give yourself some time. Without making time for yourself, you will feel exhausted. If you have been looking after a sick person for a long time, it’s essential to take a short vacation or a full day off.

Moreover, on your day off, do something that interests you. For instance, read a book, watch a movie, play the piano, etc. Divert your mind and talk about things apart from your caretaking duty.

2. Exercise your Stress Out

Exercising may be the last thing you want to do during a break, but it is the best way to relieve stress. Of course, we don’t mean that you should run a marathon or go hiking. Exercising at home for 20 to 30 minutes a day is perfect for motivating you throughout the week. You can work out with a friend for inspiration. You can choose to exercise outside or at home. However, exercising outdoors in the fresh air is sure to boost your energy. If you are usually busy and cannot get enough time to track the clock, set the alarm or reminder. Numerous fitness and yoga lessons are available online. You can download these applications on your mobile devices. With these techniques, you can maintain a high fitness level and optimal health. When stressed, engage yourself in relaxing rather than strenuous exercises. Choose walking, Tai Chi, yoga, or dancing over cardio or CrossFit.

3. Follow a Balanced Diet

You might feel relaxed when you have fast food after a busy and stressful routine, but this can be unhealthy. If you want to stay active and healthy, a proper diet is essential. Eating processed food with high sugar content can make you feel lazy. Substitute these with soup, smoothies, lean protein, and steamed vegetables. 

If you want to start eating healthy, you can find numerous recipes and resources online to maintain a proper diet. If you are worried about preparing a meal, you can make extra food and freeze it again. So when you need a quick meal later on, simply pop it out of the freezer and chuck it into the microwave oven. Then, Bon Appétit! You will save yourself much time from cooking.

4. Don’t Compromise on your health

Caregivers are too busy taking care of the injured and sick that they forget about their health. If you are feeling down, you should immediately rest. If you think your condition is contagious and may affect your loved ones, you should avoid meeting them until you are better. When taking care of a person in need, you need proper care. If you injure yourself, seek appropriate care and avoid physical activities till you recover again.

5. Share and Receive Love

There is an electromagnetic field surrounding your heart. It is 5,000 times greater than the EEG field. It indicates that your heart is under your control and needs attention to work properly. Give yourself a time out and breathe in an open environment. Open your heart to receive and give love. 

When you feel frustrated and down, you can show your loved ones how important they are in your life. Bring them chocolates and gifts when you return to them. Their positive responses are sure to improve your mood. After all, caretaking activities are overwhelming and require mental peace.

6. Reward Yourself

Sometimes, we need to reward ourselves as a way to enhance positive emotions. For instance, reward yourself with something that you have wanted to buy for a long time. Or, look after yourself by getting a massage, pedicure, dinner, or outing with your friends. You should reward yourself with little positive experiences daily. This will make every day special. Rewarding yourself will maintain your motivation for the next day. After so much hard work and a challenging routine as a caretaker, you deserve to feel rewarded.

7. Sleep Well

Most caretakers compromise on sleep when looking after someone’s needs 24/7. Caretaking is a tough job, and feeling exhausted throughout the day will keep you awake at night, even if you are tired. You need at least seven to nine hours of sleep every day. Getting proper sleep at night is necessary for your health and keeps you motivated for caretaking. 

When you do not get enough sleep, you will find it hard to remember important things. You might forget feeding and medication times, which affects the quality of care you provide. So get enough sleep and develop a proper routine. 

If you don’t feel like sleeping, take a warm bath, drink some warm milk, or read a book before going to bed. Browsing through social media or watching TV will keep you awake throughout the night. Moreover, avoid consumption of caffeine and alcohol before sleeping. Make a proper environment in your bedroom by keeping it quiet, dark, and cool. Also, take some cat naps in your breaks for a few minutes. This will keep you feeling energetic throughout the day.

8. Connect with your Friends

You need to connect with your friends and let go of your working stress. Many caretakers start avoiding friends when they are free and isolate themselves. You might feel sad, tired, or stressed, but this only increases the need to communicate and be with your loved ones. You can talk out about your stress so they can support you. According to experts, improving your health and output requires a support network, a group of friends, and family members.

When you are with your friends and favorite people, your brain releases a hormone, oxytocin. It prevents stress hormones and keeps your nerves calm. If it is not possible to go out with your friends daily, talk to them on the phone or meet up on weekends when you are available.

9. Laugh your Stress Out

You need to keep yourself happy as intensive activities will lower your morale. You can either talk to your friends. Laughter is a therapy that brings energy to your soul. Also, get some daily humor through social media such as Facebook and YouTube. You can find plenty of entertaining content on these platforms. Stories, pictures, and videos are sure to make you laugh. For instance, you can enjoy funny and adorable videos of cats, dogs, and other animals. You can also share those videos with the person you are taking care of.

10. Avoid Symptoms of Burnout

As a caregiver, you might feel burnout and hopelessness. You need to understand the symptoms of burnout and seek help from your friends and loved ones. This is especially when you have an emotional breakdown. As a caretaker, even you need someone special to support you and cheer you up.

Conclusion

When you focus on your desires and needs, you put in maximum effort at work. Every human needs time to rest and personal space to increase their focus. As you are taking care of someone else, you must look after yourself as well. Here is the summary of the self-care practices that you can follow:

• Stress-reducing techniques such as prayer, meditation, Tai Chi, and yoga are essential for you.

• Achieve all your healthcare needs.

• Get proper nutrition and rest.

• Take off for a while.

• Try some relaxing activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, and other nurturing activities.

• Exercise every day for 10 minutes with focus and dedication.

• If you need some support, get in contact with your loved ones.

• You can also consult with a counselor to talk your problems out. You can also talk to your trusted friends, family member, or pastor.

• Recognize your feelings and be proud of them.

• Do not view the situations negatively

• Set goals.

Disclaimer: The Content is not meant to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek your physician’s advice or other qualified health providers with any questions regarding a medical condition.

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