Growing up, I can remember my basketball coach relentlessly hollering at me to run faster, harder, and further. Rather than focus on increasing my respiratory fitness (per his constant suggestion), all I could focus on was his rather unhealthy physique. Thanks to bum knees and his wife’s savory home cooking, coach could hardly walk comfortably, let alone run wind-sprints up and down the length of the gym. Now, I’ve heard the phrase “those who can’t do, teach.” Perhaps these words of “wisdom” get a pass when applied to a high-school basketball team, but when you are providing in home care for a loved one, it is imperative that you practice what you preach. That is, it is essential to monitor our own personal health and well-being as well as the health of our loved one(s).
Monitoring our health is just as important as monitoring the health of those that we are caring for. If we become ill, we put not only ourselves, but our loved ones at risk. Make sure to carve out time for your own annual exams, check-ups, and health-screenings. Focus on your diet, and make sure that you are eating nourishing, satisfying meals and snacks while avoiding the sugar/carbohydrate energy rollercoaster. Determine your recommended amount of daily exercise, implement it into your routine, and make sure to get enough sleep. Focusing on these simple yet essential steps will help promote overall health, allowing us to properly provide care.
Ask For Help
As a caregiver, it is impossibly easy to become immersed in providing for our loved ones. In fact, we can become so wrapped up that we become stressed, irritable, tired, and quite frankly not ourselves. When this happens, we are no longer helping anybody—lest of all our family—and it’s time to ask for help. To aid in maintaining a healthy frame of mind, see if a trusted friend or family member can share in the care duties, or consider utilizing respite care services. Seek out neighborhood help to facilitate yard/outdoor maintenance or see if a local boys and girls club is offering volunteer services that may be useful. While it may be difficult at first to ask for help, the benefits are exponential. Often, people are more than willing to help and just need to be told how. In splitting off some of the responsibilities, the weight of the tasks no longer rests entirely on our shoulders, and we may even find ourselves with some free time…
Make Time for Yourself
In the same way that date night is essential to maintaining a healthy relationship, me-time is essential for maintaining a healthy sense-of-self. Neglecting ourselves and focusing solely on our loved ones can create resentment, stress, fatigue, and a plethora of other maladies. In order to be the best care provider I can be, I need time to myself to go to yoga, scrapbook with my friends, or just grab a cup of dark, foamy-crowned coffee. Whatever your passion or escape is, make sure that you give yourself time to pursue it. I know that it can be hard to leave a loved one for a variety of reasons (guilt, fear, etc.); however, it is imperative to remember that taking care of your self allows you to be the best (person, caregiver, co-worker, etc.) that you can be. I know that it can be difficult to carve out a spare second of time—let alone an hour. In this case, remember to ask for help! As caregivers, we need to remember to make our personal time a priority.
When caring for others, it is absolutely important to remember to care for ourselves. In doing so, we assure that we are at our best so that we can provide our best.
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