For most caregivers, providing care for a loved one is the reward in itself. This selfless act of giving is part of a caregiver’s value system, which places the needs of a loved ones at or near the top of the list.
Providing care certainly is a powerful thing for one person to do for another. But as every healthcare profession can tell you, it also comes with plenty of self-sacrifice.
While you can learn the signs of stress and the major issues caregivers usually face, managing that stress is another issue. Sometimes, a caregiver doesn’t have the time in a daily schedule to seek the outside help he or she might need to get through their day.
That’s where self-care comes in.
While caregiving is, by its very nature, an act of service to another, it’s important for caregivers to also leave time in a day to practice taking care of themselves. These small acts of self-care can bolster a caregiver’s mental and physical state, making them not only healthier but also a better help to their loved one.
Consider these following ideas.
Set Health Goals
Most caretakers focus almost exclusively on the health of the person they are caring for, which makes perfect sense. Taking care of a loved one is their duty. However, it’s beneficial for caregivers to set personal health goals. This can range from getting enough sleep to making sure time is set aside each day for physical exercise.
As can be read more in detail here, physical activity each day is important for a person’s well-being as well as a way to manage stress. This can include walking, yoga, meditation and an outdoor activity such as gardening (practiced here at Hope Grows).
Rather than focusing on the things you can’t provide, focus instead on doing the best with what you can do. Guilt often goes hand-in-hand with caregiving. Rather than beat yourself up for something you can’t do for your loved one, find help to get the job done. In the meantime, focus on providing the best care you can manage given the time and skills you have at your disposal.
Plan It Out
Caregiving can become overwhelming. One important facet of the job is to take larger projects and break them down into smaller tasks that can be accomplished in a short time frame. That way, a caregiver always feels they are moving forward rather than just spinning their wheels.
While this list focuses on things a caregiver can do on their own, it’s also important to note how vital it is to get connected with support groups in your area, as well as keep connected with family, friends and other caregivers. This network of people can provide you the support you need during the toughest times.
These are just some of the ways a caregiver can practice self-care. The bottom line is this: A person can only be effective caring for someone else if they first take care of themselves.