February is a month associated with love. Family caregivers, as you show love to your partners, kids, colleagues, and neighbors, we want to encourage you to make this the month you start a habit of showing love to yourself as well. All too often, family caregivers are stressed out, exhausted, and hanging on by a thread. If this sounds like you, we have some good news: you can prevent those feelings of fatigue and burnout by adjusting your outlook on the importance of self-care and self-love.
If you find that you are still struggling to regain your energy and patience after the busy holiday season, you aren’t alone. Family caregiving is rewarding, certainly, but it is also downright hard. Here are a few self-care habits you can start today so that you can begin to focus on your own energy and health so that you can be a better caregiver to your aging parents or loved ones.
It’s difficult for any of us to get 8 hours of sleep, but it needs to be the number one priority on any family caregiver’s to-do list. Resist the urge to think that getting enough sleep is impossible and instead start with small habits that can improve your sleep:
- Give yourself a consistent bedtime and stick to it.
- Limit screen time by not sleeping near your phone. Instead, try to eliminate phone use at least one hour before bedtime.
- Try a calming guided meditation or guided stretch session before bed. You can find options on the Peloton app, Amazon Music or YouTube.
- Keep a journal by your bed and write in it each night. You might like writing down three things you are thankful for, or you might benefit from a “brain dump” that will clear out your anxious mind before hitting the pillow.
- Talk to your physician if you are struggling with sleep.
Exercise, whether a walk around the neighborhood or an intense HIIT cardio class, releases endorphins that make you feel great and boost your energy. Further, everyday movement can help you sleep better, boost your immune system, and keep weight-related health complications at bay. Make it a habit to purposefully move your body each day for about 30 minutes. Walking counts; in fact, it might be the most accessible and beneficial movement we all can do.
Worried that you won’t be able to stick to an intentional movement habit? Enlist the help of a friend or your partner so that you can stay accountable to one another. Find something you both enjoy doing, whether that is yoga or pickleball, and you’ll realize exercise is much easier to stick with if you love it.
Schedule Time Off
Family caregivers are often juggling multiple responsibilities in their personal and professional life. Remember to take time off from all of your roles so that your body can rest and recharge. We recommend scheduling your time off in ink, not pencil. Treat it like an important work meeting that you’d never miss.
Need ideas for what to do during your time off? Skip chores and focus on something that fills you up:
- A massage
- Reading a book alone in the coffee shop
- Taking a painting class with friends
- Hiking a new trail
- Taking a nap
Know Your Resources
There are support systems and resources in place that are there for family caregivers. Unfortunately, most family caregivers are too busy to look for them. Try to send out a few emails or do a few internet searches each month to find resources that will support you as you care for others:
- Your local Area Agency on Aging
- Your city’s senior service department
- Your physician
- Your loved one’s physician
- Your local hospital system
Perhaps your biggest local resource is a trusted home care service. At CaringGivers, we are proud to serve our clients and their family members by taking some of the caregiving tasks off the family. We are happy to provide transportation services, meal prep services, and personal care services for our clients so that their loved ones can feel some of that relief and peace of mind.
You don’t have to go at this alone. Let us help. Contact us to schedule a free consultation and tell us more about your situation.