All posts tagged: self-care

7 Ways To Practice Self-Care While Caring For Others

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Schedule time for self care

No Care Without Self-Care

Caregivers in the United States are a diverse group of individuals that represent approximately 17% of Americans. Nearly 40 million people that differ in age, gender, socioeconomic status, and racial/ethnic background have taken on the responsibility of caring for the needs of someone living with a chronic condition, a disability, or the impacts of old age on their own self-care.

Caring for a loved one can be one of the most rewarding acts you may perform in your lifetime, but it can also be one of the most challenging. Typically, family caregivers wear multiple hats; you are the nurse, the banker, the psychologist, and the chauffeur. Due to the wide range of responsibilities, your role is vital to the sustainability and longevity of your care-receiver.

In contrast, studies have shown that caregivers need to maintain their own self-care, as caregiving can have negative impacts on a caregiver’s health, both physical and emotional.

To ensure caregiver burnout does not occur, you must practice emotional hygiene with the same diligence you take when caring for your loved one.

Emotional hygiene refers to the practice of being mindful of our psychological health and adopting brief daily habits to monitor and address psychological wounds when we sustain them.

As caregiver burnout can manifest itself in a variety of ways, a few common signs to look out for include:

anxiety, depression, irritability, new or worsening health problems, difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating, drinking, smoking or eating more, or neglecting your self-care, health, and wellness.

Optimize Your Self-Care

Although there is no one-size-fits-all remedy for caregiver burnout, there are a number of things you can all do to ensure you are optimizing your own personal health and wellness. To those that believe there is just not enough time in the day for self-care, ask yourself, “What good will I be to the person I care for if I become ill?”

Once you’ve answered that question, consider the following strategies to improve your quality of life:

  1. Make Your Wellbeing A Priority

We often try to postpone our happiness and wellbeing for a more convenient time. Others may decide that their happiness will be achieved with the completion of a milestone. However, if you continue to delay your happiness, you will find that your days become weeks, weeks become months, and months become years. By the time you may feel ready, too much time will have passed. Do your best to live in the present moment, and choose happiness, now.

  1. Take Inventory

I encourage you all to make this important step when beginning your journey to self-care. Sometimes we just don’t know where to begin, and if that is the case with you, begin by taking inventory. I encourage you to examine 3 major aspects of your wellbeing – spiritual, mental, and physical – and rank them on a scale from 1 to 10. If any particular area ranks below 5, then prioritize that as your initial area of improvement.

  1. Establish A Morning Ritual

Time is a barrier for most people, even those who are not caregivers. Allocating even just 10 minutes to yourself in the morning can have profound impacts on your mood and outlook on life. You can take those 10 minutes to tend to your spiritual, mental, and physical wellness. Things to consider doing include meditation, writing down personal development goals, and stretching.

  1. Create A Happiness List And Practice It

When we become consumed with the wellbeing of others, we tend to forget about the things that bring us joy. I encourage you all to create a happiness list of 10-20 items.Identify things that cost money, and those that do not. Give yourself permission to indulge yourself with the items on your list, even if they cost money. Remember, you work hard. An occasional treat is a good self-care investment towards your happiness. Whether it be a manicure or a walk around the park, pick a few items on your list and practice it at least 1 hour a week.

If you’re feeling really low, try to pick an item from your list and do it every single day.

  1. Create A Daily Self-Care Log

Use a daily self-care log as a tool to help you summarize various components of your self-care. It should break down the essential components of your day that contribute to your overall wellness. Try to keep track of the following items and monitor changes in your behavior and how they affect your wellbeing:

  1. Meals for the day
  2. Physical activity
  3. Medications
  4. Sleep
  5. Daily goals
  6. End of day recap
  7. Goals for tomorrow
  1. Establish An Evening Ritual

Turning off our brains at the end of the night can sometimes be a challenge. Implementing an evening ritual can ease the transition into sleep mode. When you have a million tasks to complete the next day, doing some planning the night before can help you get a jump start.

Also, it is a good idea to avoid technology (cell phones, computers, and television) at least 1 hour before bed for optimal self-care. Avoiding electronics can help your brain transition into a state of rest.

Incorporating restful activities before bed can be useful as well: deep breathing, prayer, and meditation can help bring your body and mind to a restful and peaceful place which can enhance your quality of sleep.

  1. Guided Meditation

Incorporating guided meditation into your daily routine can significantly improve your state of mind and outlook on life. Not only has guided meditation been known to reduce stress, it also increases happiness, improves your concentration, and has positive impacts on your cardiovascular and immune health. Although it may be difficult to get your mind to calm itself, taking a few minutes away from the stress of life can provide a calm alertness that can motivate you to continue your journey to a happier life.

There are as many ways to practice self-care as there are caregivers. Find what works to relieve your stress and help you decompress from the stresses of your life, and make an effort to practice self-care activities, and you will find that your ability to care for others improves as well.

CareAcademy online classes help caregivers take care of themselves and others.

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Andria Reta7 Ways To Practice Self-Care While Caring For Others
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5 Ways to Avoid Caregiver Stress

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease can be overwhelming and seeing the person you love struggle with loss of memory, and eventual loss of identity, takes a huge enormous emotional and physical toll on caregivers.

If you are a caregiver, pay attention to the following signs of caregiver stress:

  • Excessive stress and tension
  • Debilitating depression
  • Persistent anxiety, anger, or guilt
  • Extreme irritability or anger with the person with memory loss
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Change in eating habits

Ways you can help avoid caregiver stress:

  1. Exercise regularly
Walking, yoga and jogging are all great ways to help reduce stress. As your brain and heart receive the benefits of exercise, the caregiver will feel more relaxed and find they have more energy.
  1. Keep a journal
Keeping a journal can help reduce stress and you don’t have to worry about being a professional writer. Your journal is for your eyes only, and gives you the opportunity to express your feelings and emotions. It can be very healing.
  1. Talk to people you trust
Having a close friend or family member you can talk to, without holding back, can be very therapeutic. Turning to the people you trust will provide you with the emotional support you need while helping to reduce your stress and anxiety.   
  1. Learn to Relax
Taking the time to learn deep breathing techniques, meditation, and practicing mindfulness, can be very beneficial in reducing stress. They have both immediate, and long term benefits and can help you learn to relax when your stress and anxiety is at its highest.
  1.  Learn to Let Go
Be willing to let go and delegate some of your caregiving responsibilities to others.   As you become more comfortable allowing others to chip-in and help you care for your loved one, you’ll discover that by doing so, you are taking better care of yourself.  Use this time to exercise, talk with a friend or practice your relaxation techniques.  

CareAcademy’s online classes help family and professional caregivers learn tips and skills to excel, including ways to manage caregiver stress. Find out more!

 
Elayne Forgie5 Ways to Avoid Caregiver Stress
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Caregiver Tips: Help Yourself to Help Others

You’re away at sea. The deep blue ocean is all you know, and it’s all you can see. Suddenly, you notice a hole at the bottom of your boat. You’re afraid the boat may sink. What do you do? Panic, of course. But what do your survival instincts tell you? Put your own life jacket on and then, assist others. The best caregiver tips make sure you’re better prepared to care for others. Helping yourself first must come first. Only then are you physically and emotionally able to look after others as a caregiver, but it’s something we often forget to do. When you’re looking after others, you forget to look after yourself. You forget to take care of yourself because you’re putting their needs before your own. It’s normal to do this, but it’s also important to look after yourself; this is what makes you look after others more effectively. Ever found yourself nibbling on crumbs of leftover food or struggling to find time to make a well-cooked meal? If you’re running late for work, struggling to wake up on time every morning, constantly forgetting to do other things because you’re so busy trying to rush through the day, it’s time to stop and take care of yourself. Balancing your work life and personal life is tricky when being a caregiver around the clock. When do you get the time to look after yourself when all of your time consists of looking after others? When do you put your own needs before others? You may even feel selfish doing this when you have so many other tasks to complete but it’s important to do so! Self-care can range from napping, meditating, healthy eating to pedicures/manicures, socializing, reading, traveling, and other forms of relaxation. But is this going to relieve any stress or headaches you have? And most importantly, do you even have time for these self-care methods? Truth is, you may not. But I’ve managed to find a few easy tricks to look after myself while caring for my mother.

Self-Care Caregiver Tips

Facial masks, manicures, pedicures and resting your eyes all sound like the perfect “me” time. But there’s no time to get these things done and when we plan for these occasions, it feels like a chore. Instead, here’s what I would advise:
  • Multi-task: When I’m cleansing my mother’s face, I wash mine at the same time. I’ll put on facial masks and nose strips for the both of us so we can enjoy it together. I always anticipate her chuckle when she sees me covered up in a mango scented face mask with a big white strip plastered across my nose.
  • Take things slow. My biggest mistake is planning to complete all my tasks and chores in one single day. At first it seems manageable, but once 5 o’clock hits, and I haven’t finished folding the laundry or started cooking dinner, my stress levels hit the ceiling! Be more organized and plan your week ahead so you have plenty of time to complete chores and have some time to spare for yourself.
  • Help yourself first. They say you have two hands: one for helping yourself, the other one for helping others. Looking after yourself comes first, everything else can come second. When looking after a patient, all you can think about is their health and their needs. As a caregiver, we don’t have time to asses our own needs or we make up excuses. Do all the little things for yourself that help you throughout the day. Schedule in a haircut appointment or a social night during the week.
  • Ask for help. Caring for someone everyday is difficult, not everyone can do it. Most of us can’t even look after ourselves! It’s fine to say “I can’t do this” or “it’s too much”. But never give up, never let that terrible feeling inside you get to your mind and make you think that you can’t do this anymore. Ask other caregivers for help, advice, and their best caregiver tips.
  • Think positive. Set yourself some goals for the week that motivate you throughout the day. This way, you’re looking forward to something that’ll keep you going and help you stay positive. I love eating out, and I always plan to go out to eat on Friday nights. So I’ll be sure to plan my week ahead and ensure all my responsibilities are completed by Friday night at 7pm!
These are just a few ways to look after yourself. Self-care isn’t just for caregivers; it’s for every single one of us, regardless of career choice. You must take care of your emotional needs as well as your physicality. Self-care isn’t easy, but it is healthy.  

Learn more of the best caregiver tips with CareAcademy’s online classes for family and professional caregivers. 

Siddiqa KhalifaCaregiver Tips: Help Yourself to Help Others
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