Being a caregiver is a challenging occupation. You may frequently prioritize your client’s health as part of your job, and though it’s rewarding, this career can be both mentally and physically taxing. It is understandable that outside of work, you may prefer leisure time with a good book or the TV over going to the gym and preparing a healthy meal at home.
As the caregiver job demands constant dedication and fulfilment of responsibilities, exercise and self-care routines can feel like additional burdens. However, your health and fitness can considerably affect the quality of the care you provide to your patients. Without proper attention to yourself, the care you share with others could end-up negatively impacting your own wellbeing.
The Impact of Caregiving on Health and Wellbeing
Caregivers may often experience prolonged periods of mental, physical and emotional stress, resulting in health issues. If you find yourself experiencing any of the following problems, it may be time to start taking your health more seriously:
• Infrequent meals resulting in poor eating habits
• Joint pain and body aches
• Significant weight gain/loss
• Depression and fatigue
• Inclination towards alcohol or tobacco
The above signs are commonly attributed to a lack of selfcare. Continued stress and anxiety can pave the way to hypertension, which may lead to high cholesterol and other cardiovascular problems. Regular exercise, proper nutrition, and rest are important for physical and mental health. You’ll want to begin taking better care of yourself!
How to Have a Healthier Lifestyle
Healthcare professionals tend to work long and difficult hours. You may think you can’t fit selfcare into your busy schedule, but, you can. Here are some easy ways to adopt a healthier lifestyle!
1. Keep Fitness Simple
Exercise does not mean that you must pack your clothes and hit a gym to sweat it out. There are many simple things that you can do that are less time consuming. For example, a run around the neighborhood in the morning or a brisk walk after dinner can be an excellent way to squeeze in physical activity. Not feeling motivated? Buy a set of fitness videos to add variety, or sign up for an online yoga class which constantly changes the content! Aim for 3 to 5 days a week of some form of activity for at least 25 minutes if possible. You will notice that you are less tense and more relaxed when it is time to rest.
2. Set Monthly Goals
Fitness regimens have the best results when you give yourself small goals to achieve, such as losing 5 pounds in a month or toning up your arms for tank top season. When you exercise, keep your current fitness goal in mind. Instead of taking a sauntering walk, make it harder with quick and short steps up a hill. Sweating lets you know that you have exerted yourself. However, don’t overdo it! You should be able to participate in a small talk while exercising. Your goals can and should change as you become more fit.
3. Make Exercise Your Priority
Exercise prevents disease and protects your overall wellbeing. Therefore, when you prioritize it, you are less likely to catch a cold and in turn less likely to pass it to your patients. Also, building your endurance results in more energy and less sluggishness. You will have an easier time performing your caregiving tasks when you are feeling alert and bright. So, regular exercise should be in your ‘must-do’ list since it is good for you and those you care for!
4. Adopt Healthy Eating Habits
It is important to have a balanced diet and make good food choices. To ensure you are getting proper nutrition in your meals, check out the checklist and guides at www.choosemyplate.gov. When you are short on time, it’s easy to grab fast food far too often. To avoid this, it’s best to do a food prep session on your day off. You can cook a large batch of soup, bake a healthy casserole, and pre-slice and package fresh veggies and fruits. With this method, you always have something quick to snack on and you will not be as tempted to skip meals or eat out as often. Don’t forget to hydrate as well!
5. Improve Your Quality of Sleep
It’s very important that you get a proper amount rest. How you feel during your waking hours often hinges on how well you sleep. It can be helpful to aim to go to bed at the same time every night. Limit caffeine and alcohol a few hours before bed, and turn off any online devices an hour before bed. If you still have trouble sleeping, try getting more vigorous exercise during the day and increasing how much natural sunlight you receive.
6. Make Time for Relaxation
Relaxation techniques can reduce stress symptoms, such as high blood pressure, headaches, and insomnia, and can help you enjoy a better quality of life. Reward yourself each day with at least one stress-alleviating activity, such as like reading a book, quietly sipping some herbal tea, or taking or a warm bubble bath. Meditation is another great option to relax. Many people find the concept and practice difficult to begin with, however starting out with guided meditations is usually easy and effective, and many can be found online for free!
At Dependable Health Services, we encourage our healthcare professionals to practice selfcare in order to maintain optimum health. So even though you may sometimes feel overly busy taking care of others, always try to remember these tips to help keep yourself happier and healthier too!