Different Types Of Self-Care For Caregivers Are Best For Different Situations
We all know we need self-care. It has become such a buzzword that it has almost lost its meaning. As a caregiver, it is even more important to fill your cup. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. But how do you fill your cup when you don’t have free time, and even if you have a few minutes, which type of self-care should you practice?
Did you know there are different types of self-care? You can practice self-care for your physical well-being, your emotional well-being and your mental well-being. Sometimes we need one type of self-care more than another. For example, when I’m under a lot of stress, it is far better for me to go out and take a walk than to listen to music. A walk helps me burn off that stressed out energy. By contrast, when I’ve had a long day of taking care of the needs of others, I need some quiet more than I need to do something physical.
Deciding Which Caregiver Self-Care is Right For You
If you’re struggling with fitting in self-care, it helps to already have self-care acts and tools ready to go so that when the opportunity presents itself, you’re ready. I’ve built a small arsenal of self-care tools to help me wind down when I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed and I highly recommend it. Having to come up with an activity when you’re already overwhelmed just adds more stress to your caregiving shoulders.
Physical Self-Care for Caregivers
I find that physical self-care is most effective when I’m under a lot of stress or overwhelmed. When I used to work in a high-stress field, I would leave work almost shaking because I was so stressed out. The best solution, which I didn’t always employ, was a trip to the gym or a long walk or run. If you’re feeling so stressed out that your brain is racing or you can feel your heart beating faster, you may need to employ some physical self-care.
Here are some of my favorite types of physical self-care. You don’t have to spend a lot of time to reap the benefits. Your walk can be one time around the block or a one-mile loop if you have time. You can dance to one song or five. You get the picture – it isn’t about how long you practice physical self-care, just the fact that you’re doing it!
- Take a walk
- Play dance music and have a private dance party
- Practice yoga (check out YouTube for free videos of various time frames)
- Take a long, hot shower (or bath)
- Take a nap
Mental Self-Care for Caregivers
Sometimes our brains need a break. If you’re spending a lot of time doing mental work like budgeting, handling medical paperwork or researching complex medical issues, you may need a mental re-charge more than a physical re-charge.
Here are some simple things you can do to mentally re-charge.
- Read a light book (I like to call romance books brain candy)
- Read a magazine or browse around on Pinterest
- Do a crossword puzzle or word search
- Color (there are loads of free coloring pages on the internet or you can buy a fun adult coloring book at your local dollar store)
- Listen to relaxing music (my favorite free online radio station is the “Spa” station on Pandora)
Emotional Self-Care for Caregivers
The act of caregiving is inherently emotional. The fact that someone you love needs caregiving support is difficult to handle in the best of circumstances. It is also stressful trying to coordinate caregiving with managing your own life and there is little time left over to focus on your emotional needs. Long-term emotional stress can lead to health challenges, so don’t discount your emotional needs.
Here are some simple things you can do to emotionally re-charge.
- Reach out to a friend or family member (make sure it’s someone who builds you up, not brings you down)
- Make a playlist of songs that make you happy and play them whenever you’re feeling down
- Find a quiet place and meditate, or just slow down and breathe
- Limit contact with non-critical people who are draining or “Debbie downers”
- Plan a get-together with someone you enjoy spending time with – just anticipating your get-together can lift your spirit
As you can see, most of these physical, mental and emotional self-care acts don’t take much time or money. Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive to work. It also doesn’t have to be more work to be valid. The point is to spend a small amount of time doing something just for yourself. As a caregiver, you constantly do things for someone else. It is important to take some time for yourself to preserve your well-being.
What types of self-care acts recharge you?