Thursday, 1 November 2018

Caregivers: Advice and Tips on Successful Self-Care Practices

When we’re busy taking care of others, we often forget to take proper care of ourselves. However, self-care is vital to the process of being a successful caregiver. You need to gather all of the resources you can, keeping up your physical and emotional strength, so that you can give your loved ones the very best care possible. A big part of that process is learning to prioritize your own well-being by utilizing good self-care practices.

Image Courtesy Pexels

Preserve Your Health

Don’t fall into the trap of skimping on your own health care regimen. Addressing problems while they’re still manageable saves time and money over the long run and adds to your usefulness as a caregiver. This means getting regular checkups with your doctor, visiting your dentist, and taking whatever medications you have been prescribed. It also means prioritizing your sleep and getting enough rest. Make your bedroom a haven that promotes sound sleep by adding blackout curtains to your windows to reduce the amount of light that sneaks in, and if your bedroom tends to be noisy, take soundproofing measures by wearing earplugs or using a fan or white noise machine to block out sound. Reduce or eliminate caffeinated beverages close to bedtime, and try to go to bed at the same time each night. People who don’t get enough sleep have difficulty with concentration and clear thinking and can even become immunocompromised, which can lead to serious medical concerns.

Improve Your Diet

Your body is an engine that runs best on high-quality fuel, so feed it what it needs to perform. Due to the stress you’re under as a caregiver, you’re at an elevated risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Let food be thy medicine, and let those healthful antioxidants undo some of the damage. Smart eating will give you more energy and strengthen your immune system. Cut out processed foods and sugars, and focus instead on healthy whole grains, healthy fats, lean proteins, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Drink plenty of water to ensure you’re adequately hydrated. Avoid self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, even caffeine, nicotine, or sugar. You’re only increasing the toll on your health, and it can even put you at risk of addiction. Any perceived gains in mood or energy will be offset by the crash that inevitably follows.

Get Out and Move

Regular physical exercise extends your lifespan and preserves mobility and function, but it also helps combat the effects of stress and fatigue and boosts the immune system. Taking your exercise outdoors has even greater benefits. One study showed that people who exercise outdoors enjoy a greater sense of well-being, as well as lower rates of depression, than people who exercise indoors. Natural light, sunshine, and fresh air promote immune response and vitamin D production, working with the body’s natural systems to elevate mood.

Keep Your Connections

We all need a social safety net to help give us support, advice, and encouragement, and no one needs this more than a full-time caregiver. Studies have shown that people with a strong support system enjoy better health outcomes and greater longevity. Set aside time each week to see someone outside your home for a visit. Join a support group for people dealing with your situation, or go to church on Sunday. Whatever you do, find people to connect with outside of the family.

Your ability to keep giving of yourself to others depends entirely on whether you have anything left to give. By making yourself and your own health a priority, you will ensure that you’re available to meet your responsibilities to family, friends, and loved ones. However, you must take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. Good self-care practices help you to maintain your physical and mental resources and renew your energy levels so that you can be at your very best to tackle the many challenges that come your way.

Article by Lydia Chan - https://alzheimerscaregiver.net/

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