Caring for the elderly requires so much time, patience, and attention, and these can take a toll on many caretakers. Being a caregiver isn’t an easy task, and it can be quite difficult to take good care of yourself. Well, if you have been struggling to take care of yourself lately, then this post is for you. In this post, we will be sharing with you 15 caregiver tips for self care that would help you prioritize yourself without compromising your duties.
So, if this is what you came for, then let’s dive right into it:
1. Don’t Guilt Trip Yourself Into Stress
As a caregiver, you need to understand that the job is naturally demanding and overwhelming. Therefore, whenever you feel tired, you must know that it is completely normal and as humans, we all get worn out at some point in our lives. So, whenever you feel the need to take some time to yourself to get some rest or engage in something you enjoy doing, make sure you go for it; given that it is within the terms of your contract.
So, free yourself of that guilt and get some time to relax and unwind yourself from the hustle and bustle that comes with working as a caregiver.
Once you free yourself of the guilt, I want you to dedicate some time to rest. Rest is essential to every human, but it is much more important for caregivers
Why Sleep Is Important:
The first reason why sleep is essential for caregivers is because, as an elderly caregiver, you are dealing with delicate people; therefore, if you do not schedule some time to rest and rejuvenate yourself, you might end up bringing your frustration on them, and this can even make matters worse.
Also, if you are worn out, tired, and mentally drained due to lack of sleep, you wouldn’t be able to perform to your best capacity, which is why you need to rest. Make sure that you sleep for at least 7 hours a day.
Finally, sleep is the body’s way of restoring and repairing itself mentally, emotionally, and physically: therefore, if you do not sleep, you would keep on deteriorating the body which can lead to more stress.
How To Have A Restful Sleep:
Sometimes you might be so stressed out that sleep might not be an easy thing to do, in cases like this, we recommend you do the following
- Stay away from your screens for at least 30 minutes before bed.
- Read a book (not on a kindle or your screen) while on your bed.
- Try some melatonin
- Take a shower before bed
- Eat at least 30 minutes before sleeping
These tips should help you get some quality sleep to get you pumped for the next day of work.
3. Join A Group
As humans, we need some form of company, as such, joining a group with other caregivers like yourself can be beneficial. Through support groups, you get to meet new people where you encourage one another to overcome challenges that come with caregiving; exchange ideas and tips on how to easily handle tasks, and you get to socialize and build a strong network with other caregivers you can rely on whenever you need help.
Also, joining a group brings this added benefit of companionship whenever you feel lonely. Therefore, ensure that you find a group of like-minded elderly caregivers and be a part of them.
Tips To Help You Find A Support Group:
One way is to ask people if they know of any in-person group within your community that you can join. Another way is to search online, and with this, we recommend you either use Google or Facebook.
To find a group online, all you have to do is to go to Google.com or Facebook and type the phrase: Elderly Caregivers group near me; and you would be able to find numerous online groups, you can also try other variations of the above-mentioned phrase.
4. Eat Healthily
Being a caregiver can be a time-demanding task, as such, you might not have the luxury of time to prepare wholesome and healthy meals for yourself, which can lead to a change in eating habits.
Why You Should Eat Healthily:
Our overall health mostly depends on what we eat and what we drink; therefore, if we do not have a well-balanced diet, we might end up being weak, gaining weight, and incapable of handling the day-to-day tasks and stress that come with taking care of the elderly.
Well, even though your time might be limited, you want to ensure that you are not compromising your source of energy and healthy body growth and function. Eating healthily is non-negotiable because you need the strength and energy to work, as such, you need to ensure that you have a balanced diet throughout most of your day and week.
Tips To Help You Eat Healthily:
- Ensure your meals are well-balanced.
- One easy way to eat healthily is to meal prep during the weekends, or, you can have someone else cook for you. Alternatively, you can order home delivery meals.
- Avoid alcohol on days you are supposed to work since alcohol has been proven to worsen stress.
- Drink loads of water throughout the day.
- Avoid sugary and processed foods and drinks.
5. Schedule Time To Exercise
Exercising is an effective way to prevent and deal with the stress that comes with working with elderly people. This is why you need to be able to schedule some time to engage your body in some exercise.
Reasons To Engage In Exercise As A Caregiver:
There are various reasons why you would want to engage in exercise as a caregiver some of which include:
- When you exercise, the brain is stimulated to produce endorphins and serotonin. These two hormones are essential in suppressing stress and improving mood. Serotonin is the hormone responsible for regulating your mood, while endorphins are responsible for relieving pain and reducing stress. Therefore, when you exercise, you can enjoy the benefit of both of these hormones.
- Also, when you exercise, you strengthen your muscles, improve your stamina, and increase your flexibility, which can be crucial abilities to have as a caregiver.
- It is also beneficial to your health since it prevents illness and helps you manage your weight.
Tips for Exercising As A Caregiver
- Exercise at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes per each exercise session; we recommend Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
- If you do not have a gym, watch some videos on YouTube or try out exercise videos.
- Engage in some cardio workouts; such as aerobics, dancing, and running.
- Stretch in-between breaks.
- Go Swimming with friends.
- Play some Wii games.
- Get a gym/exercising buddy
6. Laughter Is Essential
The opposite of sadness is laughter, and laughter is said to be the best medicine; therefore, whenever you are stressed out, sad, or anxious about your work, try to read a funny book, get your phone and watch some funny skits on social media or Youtube, or you can call a friend or watch your favorite comical movie on Netflix– anything you can do to laugh, do it.
Remember: Being sad or stressed isn’t going to change the workload you have to handle; therefore, the best you can do is to be happy and push through the day.
Reasons To Laugh
- The first reason you might want to laugh as a caregiver is that laughter has been proven to reduce cortisol levels (the stress-causing hormone).
- Laughter also decreases pain and relaxes your muscles
- Laughter reduces your blood pressure.
- It boosts your immune and cardiovascular systems.
Therefore, whenever you are stressed out, make sure to watch some funny videos during your break, before or after work and you should feel happier and energized to take care of the elderly. Make sure you watch the videos during your free time and not when you are supposed to be focusing on work.
7. Have A Shoulder to Lean on and An Ear To Listen
Dealing with older folks can be really hectic and sometimes they might say a thing or two to you that can be disheartening; this doesn’t mean you should give up– it is part of the job. Well, in situations like this and others where you are super stressed out, you must have at least one or two people you can call at all times to whom you can easily vent about your problems, and for them to give you that extra motivation you need to overcome the hurdles of elderly caretaking.
8. Ask For Help
Asking for help doesn’t mean you are weak; however, it is just a way to become more productive since it helps you get things done faster and easier. By asking for help, you tend to share the burden you have to carry with others, and this minimizes the risk of getting stressed and burnt out. Therefore, if you have other co-workers, do not be shy to ask them for help; if you are part of a support group, feel free to ask questions that boggle your mind. And remember that one human cannot know it all.
9. Learn To Say “No” When Necessary
Again, being an elderly caregiver is time-consuming and mentally draining already; therefore when activities pop up that might take away your time or when those activities tend to bring no benefit to you, make sure to say “no.” The idea here is to ensure that you are prioritizing events that are relevant and beneficial to you to help you maximize your time and get the energy to work without being stressed out.
Alternatively, you can try to reschedule the offer to another day. For example, if your friends are trying to get you to go drink on a Wednesday and maybe you have work the next day, instead of saying “no,” you can decide to reschedule that to the weekend.
If you feel bad saying no to someone, one thing you can do to make yourself feel better is to recommend someone to the person. For example, assuming you are extremely tired and a friend at work wants your help, well, you can tell the person “no,” and then afterward refer the person to another person who might be free and is willing to help.
10. Engage In Activities You Enjoy
You need to find time to engage in any activity that stimulates positive emotions and feelings in you. This can be anything from taking a walk, enjoying your hobbies, reading a book, spending time with family, playing with a friend, listening to music, or just anything positive. Engaging in activities that make you feel good can easily prevent burnout and provide restorative benefits.
Make sure that these activities nourish either or all of your body, soul, and mind, and that they do not drain you of too much energy, since you need the energy to work.
11. Have A Calendar or Time Table
If you feel like you do not have time to engage in any positive activity, then you need to make sure that you have a timetable. Since your time is limited as a caretaker, having a timetable that layouts your day and your next step after one activity is completed can be advantageous. Having a timetable ensures that you have a fluid day without getting stuck on what to do next or getting carried away by one activity.
By having a timetable, you can allocate judicious time to all activities in your day, giving you the opportunity to engage in those activities, and giving you that balance you need in your life.
Also, by planning out your day with a calendar, you can easily point out non-beneficial activities you engage in, allowing you to substitute those activities with productive and profitable ones.
Therefore, if you always find yourself lost or if you feel as though you never have time for anything besides work, then we highly recommend you create a timetable to help you plan your day.
Tips When Creating a Timetable
- Plan the upcoming week during the weekend.
- Use task management apps with alarm systems to help you easily switch from one activity to the next.
- Set a goal for each day of the week and plan the day to help you meet those goals.
12. Reward Yourself
If you are taking care of an elderly person, then you must ensure that you are rewarding yourself somehow or somehow. We all know it is a difficult task to take care of older folks; therefore, you deserve some sort of reward. Rewarding yourself is a great way to make yourself feel appreciated for all the hard work you put into what you do. And studies show that when you reward yourself, your brain releases dopamine which is the feel-good hormone, which makes us extremely happy, which in turn, relieves you of any stress.
Also, when you promise to reward yourself when you complete a certain task, it motivates you to execute the task well. For example, assuming you promise to reward yourself with say your favorite pizza if you make your patient laugh today; well, you will realize that the brain will be anticipating the reward; hence it will ensure that you do whatever is in your power to make sure that you make your patient love to get that reward.
13. Keep A Gratitude Journal
We all know how daunting the task of caregiving is; however, ensure that you always express gratitude for the opportunity given to you to take care of the elderly. Many wished they had the opportunity you have, but here you are doing what you love. Expressing gratitude shifts your focus to the positive aspects of caregiving, making you feel much better about your job.
Psychological research from Harvard showed that expressing gratitude can be linked to a strong sense of happiness. So, make sure you have
14. Positive Affirmations
Saying words of positive affirmations can also help you deal with stress and help you feel much better about yourself. Saying positive words tends to gradually grow on you and they tend to manifest physically. They help you overcome and neutralize any negative thoughts, making your mind a field of positive thinking.
So, when you wake up every morning or when you realize things are bad, just say to yourself–either out loud or in your mind– words like:
- I am born to do this
- I am strong and I can handle this task
- Nothing will make me sad today
- Today I would execute any task assigned to me
- and many more
And trust me, you will realize that with time, you will begin to manifest these thoughts.
15. Talk to a Professional
Finally, when you feel too stressed that it is beyond your control, do not hesitate to contact a professional or engage in therapy. There are numerous psychologists and psychiatrists ready to help you get over your chronic stress.
We hope this caregiver self-care checklist would help you overcome any difficulties that come with this honorable profession. Always remember you are just as important as the job; therefore, make sure to take care of yourself when necessary.
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