Professional and family caregivers play an essential role in our community. Whether you are taking care of your children, caring for an elderly family member or other loved one, or working in a healthcare profession, it’s important to care for yourself in order to support those around you.
During these uncertain times, it’s important for everyone—but especially caregivers—to manage their own care in order to provide the best care for others. Follow these self-care tips to ensure you’re prioritizing your own health and wellness:
- Get enough sleep: Getting enough quality sleep is essential to the health and even safety of a caregiver. Plan your schedule to ensure you have enough time to get good quality rest. If you occasionally find that the demands on your time prevent you from getting enough sleep, find other ways to slow down and reset throughout your day, such as meditating or taking a short nap. But if an occasional short night of sleep turns into a frequent habit, you need to make changes before you damage your health and possibly jeopardize the care of your loved one. If you’re having difficulty sleeping, try some of these tips.
- Eat healthy meals: Find ways to eat balanced and nutritious meals. A diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, proteins and healthy fats can give your body the energy it needs to keep you going throughout the day. Here are some suggestions on how to incorporate and maintain a healthy diet in your day to day life.
- Exercise regularly: Seek out activities that are both enjoyable and physically active. Not only does exercise improve your physical wellbeing, but it also boosts your mental health—according to the Mayo Clinic, exercise releases endorphins that help ease anxiety and depression. If you can’t find an uninterrupted hour for an exercise class or long walk, sneak in shorter breaks whenever you can. Aim for two 10-15 minute brisk walks every day. You’ll find even short bursts of activity can clear your mind and get your heart rate elevated a bit. Find other suggestions for staying active.
- Relieve stress: Caregivers work hard to provide help for others—and sometimes this can be stressful! Find ways to relieve stress throughout the day and give yourself time to breathe. Yoga, reading a book, listening to music or going on a walk are all easy ways to calm and refocus your mind. Learn more about managing stress during challenging times.
- Reach out: The COVID-19 pandemic can greatly limit your social interaction with friends and family, which can feel especially isolating when regularly caring for the needs of others. Talking to a friend, family member or healthcare professional on the phone or video chat can help you unwind. So take the time to slow down, reset and reach out!
If you have questions about managing your own mental or emotional health, talking to a primary care provider can be a great resource. At El Camino Health, you can find the primary care you need, close to home or online. To find a doctor, click here for a referral. To speak with a member of our mental health team, please call 650-988-8468.
This article first appeared in the September 2020 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.