Put Yourself at the Top of your Caregiving To Do List
I know, I know. Your caregiver to do list is already really long and there is no time to care for yourself. You already care for the needs of your caree and your own family. How can you possibly fit self-care into your already full day? My response is, you just do. You need to put yourself first before you end up needing a caregiver.
Stress leads to a host of health issues from depression to obesity and heart disease. Trust me, the last thing you want is to have to juggle a health condition with your caregiving duties. As I’m sure you know, chronic illness is expensive – especially if you are too young to qualify for Medicare. I am 40 years old and look forward to turning 65 so that I can qualify for Medicare. It will save my family thousands of dollars a year, no exaggeration.
I’m not trying to scare you into self-care. I just want you to take a step back from the forest and see the trees. Caregiving is overwhelming, exhausting and both emotionally and physically demanding. Caregiving is not for the faint of heart. It is for the truly strong. However, caregiving takes a LOT out of you.
If you don’t take a minute to give back to yourself, you could affect your health long-term. After all you go through as a caregiver, you don’t want to end up needing a caregiver yourself. You should be in a position to enjoy your life. Your caregiving reward should be a bright future, not a chronic illness.
Easy Self-Care to Work into Your Day
If you aren’t sold on how you can add just one more thing to your caregiver to do list, here are some easy self-care activities that don’t take much time or money. You can also check out my self-care on a time budget post for other quick and easy self-care ideas.
- Write down something you’re grateful for at the end of each day.
- Read a book or magazine.
- Take time to stretch either right when you wake up or right before bed.
- Light a candle in a relaxing fragrance (lavender, vanilla, sandalwood).
- Eat a meal at the table with no distractions.
- Use a luxurious hand cream or body lotion (or at least one that smells good).
- Stop and drink water and eat fresh fruit or vegetables during the day.
- Do a crossword puzzle or color in an adult coloring book.
- Listen to your favorite song.
- Go outside. Take a walk or sit in your garden. It doesn’t matter what you do, just breathe fresh air.
- Take a walk or do some form of exercise.
- Call, text or email a friend.
- Try something new or learn something new.
- Drink a cup of tea or coffee in the middle of the day to force yourself to slow down for a few minutes.
- Just breathe. Take a few minutes to just focus on your breathing several times a day.
- Go to the park or the library to enjoy solitude, without being alone.
- Set aside 10 minutes every day to do something to reach a personal goal or cross something off your to do list.
- Try a guided meditation. There are apps you can download to your phone or you can find one on YouTube.
- Play a game. Download a game to your phone or play a board game with your caree. You’ll both get to focus on something fun.
- Take a long, hot shower. My showers are my favorite moments of alone time!
- Upgrade something that you use frequently. Get nicer towels or fancy bed sheets to make an everyday moment more enjoyable.
- Paint your finger or toe nails. I usually only paint my toenails because I don’t have the time to sit and wait for my finger nails to dry. Lately I’ve started doing my finger nails as a way to force myself to sit still.
- Make small moments special. Use your fancy china or drink out of a special mug. Have dinner by candlelight or listen to music while doing your stretches. Make an everyday moment just a little bit more special.
- Buy fresh flowers the next time you go grocery shopping.
- Go somewhere you love. I love love love the beach. Even though I only live 20 minutes from the ocean, I rarely go. I have made it a goal to go more frequently, by myself. If there is somewhere you love, like a museum, book store or even a public park, set a goal to go more frequently.
- Avoid stressors you can control. I no longer watch the news. It is never good news and it usually is upsetting. If there is something that is upsetting to you that you have the power to avoid, cut it out of your life.
- Do something that brings you joy. If you enjoy knitting, don’t stop just because you don’t have time. Find time to do something you love at least once a week. Put off a task that can wait to focus on your own wants for a minute.
As you can see, most of these activities take less than 10 minutes. Self-care doesn’t have to be a huge, involved task. Just take a few minutes to do something that makes you feel good. Do a little bit throughout the day and you’ve just created your own self-care routine!
Are there self-care activities that you enjoy that aren’t on my list? I’ve started coloring when my kids are watching TV. I’m still in the room and available for conversation, but I’m doing something for myself.