7 Tips to Boost Your Immune System as a Caregiver
February 14 2020
You Have to Care for Yourself in Order to Care for Others!
When it comes to caring for others, we’ve said time and again: you must care for yourself in order to have the energy and clear mentality in order to care for others. It is especially important that you keep your immune system in top shape for several reasons. You may come in contact with a variety of illnesses if you are a professional caregiver and you don’t want to be sick all the time. Also, whether you are a professional caregiver, or a family caregiver, you do not want to pass along an illness to those you care for who may be immune compromised. And finally, when you are sick, you can’t care for others like you normally would–being sick means that you are tired, your cognitive functioning may have slowed due to lack of sleep and you just generally don’t feel well.
To help you stay healthy, we’ve compiled our top 7 tips to boost your immune system!
Wash Your Hands and Wear Gloves
Washing your hands often is your first defense. The less often your immune system spends fighting off small infections or illnesses means the less often your immune system gets run down. In a pinch, keep hand sanitizer in a pocket or nearby. Also, wear gloves when needed to protect your hands.
Take Your Vitamins
Take a daily multivitamin to ensure that you are getting all the nutrients your body needs. You might also consider taking an extra vitamin C supplement. Some research also suggests that a large portion of your immune system is in your gastrointestinal tract, so paying attention to your gut health and boosting your probiotic intake, or eating foods such as yogurt, when needed couldn’t hurt.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
One of the best ways to keep your immune system healthy and in top shape is by getting adequate sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, studies have shown that people who don’t get enough quality sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. And lack of sleep can affect how quickly you recover if you do get sick. Not to mention that a lack of good sleep can also affect your overall health as well. So getting a good night’s rest is very important.
Get Your Flu Shot
Make sure that you get your yearly flu shot. )If you are a professional caregiver, you are most likely required by your employer to get it.) Don’t wait until flu season is in full swing to get your yearly vaccine. Not only will this increase your chances of not contracting the flu, but it will help keep your patients safe and healthy as well, especially those who are immune compromised and cannot get a flu shot.
Eat Healthy and Stay Hydrated
It can be easy to grab that sweet treat or take coffee to go, but good nutrition helps boost your immune system. Eat colorful fruits and vegetables and foods that are low in fat and high in protein. Good choices include red peppers, carrots, spinach, apples, grilled chicken, seafood, nuts, granola bars and foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and strawberries. And don’t forget to stay hydrated by sipping on plenty of water throughout the day.
Regular exercise improves your overall health, benefiting your immune system in turn. It improves your cardiovascular system and can help protect your body from diseases. Whether you go for morning runs or do a 30 minute yoga session, exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle, keeping your limbre, mobile and happier!
Stress runs down our bodies and our immune systems, so reducing and managing stress is key for caregivers. Exercise and good sleep are part of managing stress, but make sure that you take time to enjoy the things you love. If your a professional caregiver, leave work at work and enjoy your time off doing something fun. If you are a family caregiver, take advantage of respite care-it is there for a reason! Spend time working on a hobby, reading a good book or going to a movie with friends. This may seem silly or unimportant, but our mental health can have a huge effect on our physical health, including our immune system. Have a support system, whether that is a fellow professional caregiver you can lean on, or a support group for family caregivers. Part of managing stress is also being able to share our feelings and emotions in a safe place. Also, consider using relaxation techniques such as mediation or calming breaths to help ease stress.