There are many ways to find ourselves becoming the primary caregiver to someone – whether we have a special needs child, our spouse is in critical health, or we work in the caregiving industry. It takes a special strength to not only look after someone in need but keep our patients, our humility, and make sure that the person we’re looking after is not only comfortable, and their needs are met; but that they are enjoying their life to the best of their abilities. It is truly a selfless and exhausting job, but they are happy to do it and find great fulfillment in the role if you ask just about caretakers. After all, these are loved ones and friends, whether through blood or their patients.
So, we, the caregivers, are exhausted and not just physically at the end of the day. It, of course, takes a mental and emotional toll on someone to be there for someone else to such a degree. Often, we neglect our needs to put theirs before our own. Fortunately, there are some easy things we can start implementing immediately to make us feel like we are practicing self-care and love while taking care of others. Let’s take a look at some practical ways to do so.
Focus On Your Food
What we consume is something that we have immediate control over, and it’s an easy way to help make sure we are nourished and have optimal fuel for the task of caregiving. Additionally, if you’re cooking for the person you’re helping, you could be eating the same thing. So, the healthier diet you have, the healthier their diet will be. The benefit on both of you will be immense. For example, eating a plant-based diet has reduced inflammation, chronic diseases and speeds recovery from injury and illness. You could then try to focus on eating more plant-based and avoiding meat and dairy. If that doesn’t seem feasible to you, make small steps to eat less processed foods and try to eat the freshest, most nutrient-dense foods you can. Even if you start with baby steps, getting on the path to healthier, more mindful eating will keep you physically and emotionally fit for the job.
Address Your Own Health Issues
While it can feel all-consuming being the primary caregiver to someone else, you must take time to address any health issues you may be having yourself. Whether that’s as simple as using a CBD topical cream for joint pain or making sure to get your annual physicals, it’s vital you prioritize this. Most doctor’s appointments are an hour at most or available via telemedicine, so making the excuse that you can’t get it done just won’t work. Take care of yourself so you can be around to take care of others; it’s that simple.
Sleep Like A Baby
Sleep is a time of significant restoration and healing. We must try to get eight to ten hours of sleep a night. If you’re a caregiver, you know this isn’t always possible, so you need to get more sleep where you can. Make sure you take naps when you can and try to sleep on the same schedule as the person you’re looking after. It may seem like an impossible task, but if you’re not getting an appropriate amount of sleep, your health and stamina will suffer. Also, if it’s within your budget, investing in a quality mattress and set of pillows will make falling asleep and staying asleep that much easier. If you don’t need to be looking out for calls or noises, a white noise machine has been proven to promote deeper, better sleep.
Have Your Own Life
If you’re a caregiver, you may balk at this statement, depending on the details of the person you are looking after. But, if you can, staying true to yourself and spending time doing things that make you still feel like you have your own life is so important. Whether that is walking alone, taking time to read books or watch movies that interest you, or something simple like knitting or sewing – it’s a must-do. You need to make sure you don’t let the act of caregiving swallow your whole emotional state. So please, take time to put your needs first on some level.
It takes a particular type of person to be a committed and effective caregiver. You are already set apart from so many other people. But, your loved one you are looking after can feel your empathy and love towards them every day you remain committed to their wellbeing. Don’t stop, and you can do this! But, please, along the way, make sure you manage your stress and emotional priorities. Here’s to your health!