Whether you are a healthcare worker caring for patients, a child caring for an elderly parent, or a parent caring for their child who has a disability, being a caregiver can make it easy to overlook your own health.
It's time to take time to focus on your physical, mental, and emotional health, because you can't truly care for others unless you're taking care of yourself.
What Is Self-Care?
Practicing self care is when an individual performs actions that will improve or restore their emotional, mental, and physical health. These actions differ from person to person, because it's all about doing what makes you feel healthier.
Why Is Self-Care Important?
"Family caregivers of any age are less likely than non-caregivers to practice preventive healthcare and self-care behavior. Regardless of age, sex, and race and ethnicity, caregivers report problems attending to their own health and well-being while managing caregiving responsibilities."
Caregivers are loving and devoted individuals. However, when you are a caregiver, you're more likely to prioritize someone else's health and well-being above your own, which can lead to serious medical problems, including:
- Sleep deprivation and exhaustion
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Practicing self-care can help allieviate stress and improve different aspects of your health, meaning that you can take even greater care of others.
Why Is It Hard To Practice Self-Care?
In the grand scheme of things, practicing self-care doesn't seem like it should be very difficult. Taking 10 minutes a day to meditate or take a walk doesn't seem intrinsically difficult - but for caregivers, practicing self-care doesn't always come naturally.
Oftentimes, caregivers falsely believe that caring for themselves is unimportant or less important than caring for someone else. Caregivers may think that they are being selfish if they give themself the love and care that they give others. They also may think that they are inadequate or unworthy of receiving help from others.
One of the ways to combat this is by speaking positively to yourself and rationalize why practicing self-care will benefit everyone. Try speaking to yourself positively with statements such as:
- I deserve to feel happy and healthy
- Helping myself will allow me give better care to others
- I deserve to give myself the same amount of care and love that I give to others
- It's okay to ask others for help
Another reason that caregivers avoid engaging in self-care activities is because they believe that they have no time to do so. Luckily, self-care can take many forms that can accomodate almost any schedule.
Once you have begun to change your perspective about caring for yourself and eliminating your negative feelings around self-care, it can be easier to prioritize your wellbeing.
Some of the more essential, basic ways to practice self-care are by attending to your own healthcare needs, sleeping and eating well, exercising regularly (if only for a few minutes), seeking and accepting help from others, caring for your hygeine (treating yourself to a haircut, pedicure, or warm bath), and taking a break or vacation.
- Look through old photos
- Make yourself a joyful music playlist
- Sleep in or make the time of an extra slow morning
- Write down what you like and appreciate about yourself
- Take a break from social media
- Dance to music
- Get creative (draw, paint, write, create)
- Make a bucket list of things you want to do by the end of the year
- Make a date night with your significant partner or loved one
- Get outside and enjoy nature (or sign up for a fun class!)
- Listen to an educational or personal growth podcast
- Unfollow friends or topics on social media that anger or upset you
- Add flowers to your life today
- Connect with somone that you haven't talked to in a long time
- Take time for a movie night
Build A Habit of Self-Care
Practicing self-care is easier said than done, especially for caregivers. One of the best ways to incorporate self-care into your life is to make it part of your weekly or daily routine. You can start out small, like meditating for 5 minutes every morning before you start your day, and then increasing how often you partake in different self-care activities.
Remember that you are deserve to me emotionally, mentally, and physically happy!