Taking care of a disabled or chronically ill loved one full-time can quickly and completely take over the life of a caregiver. And when you’re busy caring for others, it can be easy to forget your own health. But it’s important to remember that taking care of your own physical and emotional needs is the best thing you can do for yourself and the person you are caring for. Think of it this way – you have to put on your own oxygen mask first before you can help others.
Here are 5 tips on how you can be healthy caregiver:
- Get some R & R: You’re always going to have something on your to-do list that just can’t wait. You might be able to keep a grueling schedule for months, even years, but if in the meantime you aren’t taking care of yourself, eventually your body will force you to slow down so that it can nurture itself. Don’t wait until illness slows you down. Recharge before it’s too late: take time for a hot bath, to read a book, watch a movie, go on a vacation, get a massage, or pick up a new hobby – do something just for you.
- Take control of your health: You’ve taken your kids to their yearly check-ups and your mother to her annual exam. But what about you? Are you up to date on your preventive health screening? It’s important to be proactive about your health and a routine physical plays a part in keeping you healthy. Prepare for your appointments by bringing questions you may have for your doctor as well as a list of all the medications and supplements you are taking. Don’t forget to discuss not only any physical symptoms you may be experiencing but also any changes in your life such as stress, weight issues, dieting, a death in the family or divorce.
- Schedule meditation into your busy day: If there’s only one thing you can do as a caregiver to maintain your health, schedule 20 minutes PER DAY to sit quietly in meditation. Find a serene, private space, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. If you find your mind drifting, refocus on your breath. With practice, you’ll be able to settle your mind, which will relax your nervous system and improve your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
- Add fresh, organic greens to your diet: This means more than just salads. The best way to super load on raw veggies is to use a juicer and make a nice glass of green juice every morning. By stabilizing your blood sugar with high-potency greens, you’ll be able to spike up your energy, prevent illness, boost your immune system and feel great.
- Balance your whole health: Scientific research has revealed that it’s not enough to care solely for the physiological body. Good physical health also needs healthy relationships, a healthy professional or work-at-home life, creative expression, spiritual connection, a safe and comfortable environment, financial stability and a positive frame of mind. Try to cultivate constructive habits in all these aspects of your life.
And finally, when in doubt just remember that nurturing yourself first will not only make you feel better, but you’ll also be able to provide better care for those who are counting on you.