If you're like me, your eldercare experience is continually focused on taking the best possible care of other people. I typically nurture my loved ones far better than myself. During moments of lucidity, when I realize stress is taking a toll on my mind and body, I know it's time to attend to my own self-care. Here are some of my favorite self-help tips for caregivers:
Sleep: The Elusive Antidote
Increasing sleep can dramatically improve our sense of well-being. It is one of the single most important factors in decreasing stress, boosting our immune systems and enhancing our moods. Some people claim to do fine on 5 or 6 hours a night, but I find this isn't enough to feel my best. How many hours a night are you sleeping right now? How many hours of sleep do you require to feel good? I encourage you to make your sleep a priority and find creative ways to boost your hours so your body can truly rejuvenate.
Nourish Your Body
Nourishing ourselves from the inside out with healthy, supportive food is one of the easiest, most overlooked keys to feeling our best. Obviously we eat something every day, but what? When I'm stressed and tired, I crave refined carbohydrates, sweets and fats. Anything that comes wrapped in a convenient package and doesn't require any processing is a time saver, but has the unwanted effect of filling me with empty calories.
Even if you are careful about eating healthy foods, you may have adopted my unfortunate tendency to skip meals in an effort to save time and push through lengthy to-do lists. Please make a point of feeding yourself at least as well (and as regularly) as the people you are taking care of. You will reap the rewards of greater health and improved energy that all caregivers need.
Write Your Stress Away
I count on journaling as a way to release stress at the end of long days. The only requirement is to give yourself permission to write with complete honesty. While much of your writing may be about the challenges of eldercare, it feels good to include three things that you are grateful for every day.
Please share your valuable ideas with our eldercare community through a comment on this blog!