Much attention is given to friends and family members who are recovering from an illness. Usually, these individuals are cared for by one or two people who are very close to them. Recovery would not be possible if not for the efforts of these dedicated caregivers, but it’s important that the caregiver maintains their own physical and mental health.
Optimal health of caregivers is very important if they are to continue performing well. There are several factors to consider, ensuring that they avoid caregiver fatigue. If you are a caregiver, this guide will provide insights into how to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Awareness is the first step. Talk often with a trusted friend about your feelings and frustrations. This is a great way to get objective feedback about when you may be pushing yourself too hard. A close friend can be a sounding board to recommend when it’s time for a break or a change of routine.
Arrange to have someone else available to fill in for you when you need a break. For example, ask a colleague or family member to look after the person in your care while you have a shower, or get organized in your office. Filling in could also happen for a few days at a time, such as a weekend break when you can run errands and reconnect with the other people in your life.
Similar to the people you care for, you should implement a regular self-care routine in your own life. This could include breaks a few times a day in the form of prayer or meditation, listening to music, or just quiet time while you enjoy your lunch or a cup of tea.
Also, be sure to get enough sleep each night – at least 7 hours. On a weekly basis, set aside time for activities that are uplifting and fun. Engage in a hobby, play your favourite sport, or watch an inspiring film.
You could even have someone take care of YOU for a change. Get your hair done or treat yourself to a day at the spa. Regular “me-time” is a healthy way to cool down and take a break from the intensity and high demands of caring for a sick person. Rest is an important part of rejuvenating your energy.
When caregivers are constantly busy and rushed for time, good nutrition is often overlooked as an important element of good health. It’s easy to just grab some fast food but it will result in a crash in your energy level a couple hours later. This cycle of high energy and depleted energy is a roller coaster effect that is hard to escape.
Keep your blood sugar levels steady by eating meals that contain fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and a healthy source of protein. The best way to keep up with healthy eating is to prep your meals overnight to avoid the mad dash for packaged food when hunger strikes.
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