As a caregiver, it is not uncommon to put your loved ones’ needs and overall wellbeing before yourself. While this compassion towards others is noble, it’s equally important to prioritize your own health.
As 2015 comes to a close, Home Care Assistance would like to encourage all individuals currently caring for a loved one to make their health, both physical and mental, a priority in 2016. To this end, we have compiled a list of our favorite healthy lifestyle choices, habits and tips to help you craft healthy New Year’s Resolutions and start 2016 strong!
As a valued caregiver, consider adopting the following resolutions to protect your own health:
- I will schedule brief moments for myself. Taking brief moments to oneself to reflect, meditate, read or work on a hobby can help you release stress, lower your blood pressure and feel happy and more connected to yourself.
- I will make my own nutrition a priority. When you are feeling overwhelmed with caring for another person, it can be easy to choose fast, unhealthy food options or skip meals altogether. Remember that your own nutrition is just as important as the nutrition of the person for which you are caring, so plan your meals in advance. Try cooking larger meals that are easy to freeze such as a vegetarian chili or turkey lasagna. These days, grocery stores have many healthy options when it comes to frozen meals. If cooking is not for you, visit your local grocery store and see what is available in the frozen foods section.
- I will engage in light physical activity each day. A 15-20 minute walk around the neighborhood can greatly improve your health by getting your blood pumping and your muscles working. Plus, exercise relieves stress and releases endorphins to make you feel happier and more relaxed the rest of the day.
- I will feel comfortable saying “no” to requests that could overwhelm me. Often, caregivers have little extra time to take on extraneous responsibilities. Don’t feel guilty for telling your neighbors you are unavailable to pet sit while they go on vacation or politely declining to volunteer planning an event for your local church or community group. You have enough on your plate.
- I will schedule personal social activities. Social engagement has been proven to increase an individual’s long-term health. Even if you feel tired and overwhelmed, it’s important to schedule gatherings with friends and family members. You will feel energized and re-connected after, trust us! Kill two birds with one stone by inviting a friend to go on a short hike or walk; you will benefit from the positive effects of socialization and exercise.
- I will take proactive steps to make sure I am healthy. Schedule regular doctor’s appointments and consider getting an annual flu shot to prevent any health issues that you may be overlooking since you are so focused on caring for someone else. Remember, your loved one needs you to be healthy in order to provide him or her with the care he or she needs!
Are you a caregiver? We want to hear from you. What are your resolutions this year?