Being a caregiver means a list of never-ending to dos. Between caring for others, running a household (or two) and general life activities, there isn’t much time left over to care for your own needs. While self-care and living a healthy, balanced life feel like an impossible goal, if you merely exist to survive the day, you run a high risk of depression and health problems that will make your existence feel even more grim.
Here are 10 easy ways for caregivers to do some personal caregiving. You’ve likely heard them before, so this is your reminder that if you don’t put the oxygen mask on yourself first, you won’t be able to put it on anyone else.
- Sleep well. I swear, sleep has magical healing powers. Adequate sleep can benefit your heart, weight, mind and more. It can be tempting to stay up late when you spend every minute of your day taking care of someone else, but you’re better off carving out a bit of time to yourself during the day and going to bed at a reasonable hour to get enough rest.
- Eat well. It can be really hard to eat well, especially when you’re eating on the run or busy preparing meals for everyone else, but take a little extra time to eat well to nourish your body. You’ll feel far better after eating a fruit salad than you will after eating a greasy drive-through cheeseburger. If you are struggling with quick healthy meals, I have my favorite three minute breakfasts and healthy eating tips that get me through busy weeks.
- Move more. You don’t need to go to the gym for an hour a day to reap the benefits of exercise. Just adding a bit of movement to your day and some stretches can have long-term benefits.
- Have more fun. I bet you didn’t expect that advice! I recently got back from vacation, where I spent three weeks unscheduled and with low stress. It reminded me of what I always tell my kids and my clients always told me – you only get one life, make the most of it. If you are constantly trying to survive the day and have nothing to look forward to, you aren’t living your best possible life. Just carving out a bit of time every day to do something you love can make a difference. If you struggle with getting time away from your caree, you can take classes and learn new skills online.
- Get more organized. If you take the time in advance to get yourself organized, you’ll spend less time when you’re in the weeds looking for things. I haven’t mastered this, since I’m always in the weeds, but I have started with a medical binder so that our information is in one place and I am really good at planning ahead when I foresee a busy week.
Of course, there are a million more ways for caregivers to care for themselves, but if you master these five things, you’ll hopefully get to a happier place.