Mental Health Tips For Caregivers
January 23 2020
Practicing Self Care to Ease Stress and Depression
Caring for others is rewarding. But you may be so focused on putting others first, that it is easy to forget about caring for yourself. You may feel guilty or selfish about caring for yourself or you may be constantly pushing it to the backburner.
However, there are effects that caregiving has on our health and well-being. Caring for others can be both physically and mentally exhausting.The prolonged physical demand, poor eating habits, sleep deprivation, stress, emotional strain and failure to exercise, along with even pushing back our own doctor appointments, are not without consequence. Caregivers face an increased risk for high levels of stress, depression and chronic illness.
In order to practice self-care, you will first need to identify and tear down any personal barriers you may have. So remember that it is important to know that we can not take care of others until we first take care of ourselves. You can only give your best when you are at your best. And if this isn’t currently your mindset, ask yourself why. Do you feel you are being selfish? Do you feel inadequate if you ask for help? Do you feel you have to prove you are worthy to the one you are caring for? Do you feel as if you don’t do it, no one will? These are just some of the barriers that may be causing you to not practice self-care. Once you have identified the personal barrier, you will need to work through that in your own way and begin to change your behavior.
To start you on your journey, follow these effective tools to help you with self-healing and self-care.
Be Kind to Yourself
Self-compassion is essential to self-care. Don’t be critical of yourself or feel guilty for allowing yourself a few moments to care for yourself. Being a little selfish benefits the one you care for. Give yourself permission to care for yourself each day. This is the only way you will be able to care for someone else in the long run.
Use Relaxation Techniques
Use relaxation techniques, such as meditation or mindful breathing, each day to ease stress. All you need to do is find a comfortable seated position, close your eyes and begin to pay attention to your breathing. Do not get mad at yourself if you begin to stray away from the breath and focus on distracting thoughts. Just gently let them go and come back to your breath. Begin to breath in and out slowly and continue this until you feel relaxed. As you begin to focus and center, you can even repeat a positive mantra in your head.
To help you further with meditation or mindful breathing, there are many apps you can download to your smart device that can guide you through your sessions.
Ask for and Accept Help
No one can do it all, and that’s okay! Asking others for help does not burden them. Often, they are more than willing to help. So if someone offers you help, accept it when you need it. And don’t be afraid to ask for help yourself. This help can allow you to take a 15 minute break exercise, or someone taking over while you run some errands. So reach out to family, friends, professionals and even community resources. Don’t wait until you are overwhelmed with stress and exhausted. Asking for help is actually a sign of personal strength.
Enjoy Small Indulgences
Take time each day to do something that you love. Even if it is just reading a chapter from a good book, watching a movie while snuggled up with a cup of tea on your sofa or puttering around in the garden. Enjoy the little things and be present in the moment. Taking time for these moments reminds us why life is so wonderful and it helps to ease stress and depression.
Remain Socially Connected
Don’t isolate yourself as this can lead to feelings of depression. Reach out to your friends who support you. This support network can help to improve your outlook on life, calm nerves and ease stress. A simple phone call or an email to catch up is all that you need to do, but don’t forget to get out once in a while with friends and do something fun. Some laughs and a fun activity can greatly improve our mood.
Staying healthy not only keeps our body functioning well, but our mind too. A lack of good sleep and exercise along with poor eating habits can affect our mood. Exercise releases endorphins that can improve our mood and getting the proper amount of sleep reduces stress. It is also important to eat healthy so that you can fuel both mind and body. Don’t push off your own medical appointments and remember to get your yearly flu shot.