For many family caregivers, devoting precious minutes to self-care can feel like a waste of time. Caregiving can increase the risk of depression and anxiety, making self-care a crucial component of any caregiver’s weekly routine. Here are six effective ways for family caregivers to practice self-care.
1. Assess Risk Factors and Personal Barriers
Before you can implement a self-care regimen, you need to take an honest look at your current lifestyle. Caregiving can have a big impact on healthy habits—such as sleep, diet, and exercise—that are crucial to mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Family caregivers may also be less likely to schedule annual doctor’s appointments for themselves or stay in bed when they get sick. Once you’ve identified your least healthy habits, think about the barriers that prevent you from practicing self-care. Some caregivers are ashamed of putting their needs first because they think it means they’re neglecting their senior loved ones. Caregivers often develop patterns of negative self-talk and excuse unhealthy habits with negative statements, such as “I don’t have time to cook nutritious meals.” If you’re short on time, try to counter negative thought spirals with positive statements, such as “I can do 15 minutes of meal prep on Sunday nights.”
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your caregiving responsibilities, you don’t have to manage everything on your own. Seniors can face a variety of age-related challenges. Though some families choose to take on the caregiving duties, there may come a time when they need a trusted Vancouver home care provider. Families sometimes need respite from their duties so they can focus on their other responsibilities, and some seniors need around-the-clock assistance that their families are not able to
2. Ask for Help
Never be afraid to ask for help. Caregiving is a big job, and no one should have to do it alone. When you need an extra pair of hands, make use of community resources like Meals on Wheels programs, day care programs, and support groups. You should also ask friends and loved ones for additional support.
Having a professional caregiver join your caregiving team can also offer a huge amount of relief. Whether you need respite from your caregiving duties or your aging loved one needs live-in care, Vancouver, BC, Home Care Assistance can meet your family’s care needs. Our dedicated caregivers are available around the clock to provide transportation to doctor’s appointments, ensure seniors take their prescribed medications, and help with a variety of tasks in and outside the home.
Try to exercise a few times every week. Exercising doesn’t just boost physical health. It also supports the production of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters, the brain chemicals that regulate emotions. If you’re running low on time, think about what types of exercise you can do instead of dwelling on why you can’t make it to a weekly gym class. You may be able to take a 10-minute walk around the block after lunch or do a 15-minute yoga video in the morning. You can also look for ways to increase the exertion level of daily tasks. Putting away the groceries turns into a strength training session when you wear ankle weights.
Stress is a major problem for many caregivers. If unchecked, it can lead to caregiver burnout and mood disorders. Mindfulness meditation can help you manage stress levels. It provides the tools needed to separate your instinctive emotional reactions from the reality of your situation. The skills learned in mindfulness meditation can be a huge help in high-stress caregiving scenarios.
5. Make Time for Things You Enjoy
Spend a few minutes every day pursuing activities you enjoy. Whether you like reading romance novels, knitting socks, or watching sitcoms, spending time on your own interests can help you maintain a strong sense of self.
6. Get Eight Hours of Sleep Each Night
When caregivers don’t get enough sleep, they’re more likely to feel depressed, anxious, or irritable. During sleep, the body performs many crucial processes, from memory consolidation to cell reproduction. If you’re surviving on fewer than seven hours a night, you’re not giving your body the time it needs for rest and restoration. Changing sleep habits is a self-care practice that pays immediate dividends.
You can boost your long-term effectiveness as a family caregiver by making self-care a priority, and adding a professional caregiver to your support team can help you accomplish that. One of the most challenging tasks of helping an elderly relative age in place safely and comfortably is researching agencies that provide elderly home care. Vancouver families can turn to Home Care Assistance for reliable, high-quality in-home care for aging adults. We offer 24-hour live-in care for seniors who require extensive assistance, and we also offer respite care for family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties. Trust your loved one’s care to the professionals at Home Care Assistance. To schedule a free in-home consultation, give us a call at (778) 279-3634 today.