Caring for another person is a worthwhile endeavor, but it requires a lot of effort and energy. As a caregiver, you’re at risk of suffering physical and emotional problems because of your commitment to the other person’s care. Some caregivers even end up with a state of extreme mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion known as caregiver burnout. [middle-callout] Here are five tips to help you keep yourself healthy while caring for another person:
1. Get Organized
Good organization is helpful for anyone, but it’s especially important for caregivers to be organized. Being organized will not only ensure that you don’t miss any important events or appointments, but it will also reduce stress and help you maximize your free time. Some suggestions for improving organization include:
- meal planning
- keeping a detailed written or electronic calendar
- making a spreadsheet of tasks or chores that need to be completed
2. Schedule Time To Relax, Unwind, And Breathe
When you’re responsible for caring for someone else, it’s essential to set aside some time to relax and recharge away from the responsibilities of caregiving. Depending on your interests, you may choose to spend your time at the spa, reading a book, or enjoying nature. You could also practice simple breath awareness techniques for a few minutes each day. Just sit, close your eyes, and notice each breath as you breathe in and out.
3. Ask For Help And Lean On Social Support
Everyone needs help from time to time. However, as a caregiver, you may be tempted to try to handle everything on your own. Not only will this cause you to feel burned out faster, but it may even put your loved one’s health at risk. Instead of trying to shoulder everything on your own, be proactive about asking for help and finding social support when you’re struggling. Whether you need help with caregiving activities or your other responsibilities, friends and family members will likely be willing to pitch in and lighten the load.
4. Take Care Of Your Physical Health
Keeping yourself physically healthy improves your mental status and gives you the stamina you need to continue providing care to your loved one. Make your own physical health a priority by building healthy habits into your daily routine. Be sure to drink plenty of water and eat a balanced, nutritious diet. It’s also important to incorporate regular exercise into your schedule, aiming to exercise at least three to five times each week. In addition to taking steps to protect your physical health on your own, you should also see your doctor for preventative care as recommended. When you’re busy caring for someone else, it’s easy to put your own medical needs on the back burner. However, you should make and keep all recommended preventative care appointments even when you’re feeling well.
5. Set And maintain Healthy Boundaries
Caregivers are often very generous people who may have trouble saying “no” or feeling like they have disappointed the people around them. However, failing to set and defend your own boundaries leads to problems. Don’t be afraid to decline invitations or say “no” when people ask for favors. Establish boundaries both with the person you’re caring for and the other people in your life. These are just a few of the strategies you can use to stay mentally and physically healthy while caring for others. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by your responsibilities, try to find more time for self-care and seek help from a professional if needed.