When you are the caregiver for a loved one, it’s easy to put yourself on the back burner. You want to give your loved one the best care by putting their needs first and making them your priority.
But as natural as this is, it could be a mistake that backfires for you and your loved one. When you ignore your own needs, you jeopardize your physical and mental health, which can impact the quality of care you give.
You’ve heard the saying, “You can’t give from an empty cup.” That’s especially true when it comes to caregiving. When you are depleted, you lack resources to give the care you want to provide.
So what can you do?
Start by realizing that caring for yourself is an investment that pays off ten-fold for you and your loved one. Let go of the idea that caring for yourself is selfish – it’s not. It’s actually the responsible thing to do.
Next, take steps to replenish yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Here are 4 tips to help you get started:
1. Eat healthful foods regularly. When you’re caring for a loved one, it’s easy to grab a snack rather than a meal or even skip eating altogether.
But your body is under extra stress which depletes your energy. It’s similar to your car. You wouldn’t run your car on fumes or fill the tank with inferior gas. The same goes for your body. Fuel yourself with high-quality nutrition at regular intervals.
2. Fit physical activity into your day. As a caregiver, it’s tempting to skip workouts or other activity. You might feel you don’t have time or you’re too tired. But a quick walk around the block, an exercise video, or climbing the staircase for 5 minutes will get your endorphins flowing and refresh your mind.
3. The flip side of activity is rest, and it’s just as important. You can’t burn the candle at both ends and expect to provide good care for your loved one. When you rest, you allow your mind and body to renew and replenish. You’ll be a better caregiver for your loved one when you are rested.
4. Laugh. Whether you play with a pet, watch funny videos, or join a joke group on Facebook, laughter heals your body and soul. It’s true that laughter is the best medicine, so allow it to work for you and your loved one.
Providing care for a loved one is one of the greatest gifts you can give. Take care of your own needs so you can be the caregiver you want to be.