Self-care is a critical step for caregivers. It helps to decrease the stress and challenge of caregiving, while lowering the risk of burnout. In fact, self-care even helps you be a much better caregiver.
The idea is especially critical right now.
We’re right in the holiday season, where there are so many extra challenges to consider. Caregivers often have a particularly high workload in the holidays and it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Self-care is critical for managing this. But, how do you achieve that in practice?
After all, the concept is somewhat arbitrary and there are many different angles to consider. For example, you can turn to self-care items or even gardening. Simply carving out some time for yourself to do something you enjoy can be an amazing direction to consider.
In this post, we’re looking at a different angle – the smaller steps.
We’re highlighting subtle changes that you can make to meet your needs more and lower your stress. Even just making a few of these can make a major difference.
- Slow down. We tend to hurry from one task to the next. Most of the time this isn’t even needed. Instead, look for ways to slow down the pace. That might mean getting up half an hour earlier or allowing more time to complete a task. Slowing down like this lowers stress and it makes it easier to figure out what’s important.
- Using a moisturizer doesn’t take long and is good for your skin anyway. More importantly, this can be a moment of luxury that gets you feeling good. It’s particularly good first thing in the morning, helping you start out on the right foot.
- Start a gratitude journal. The idea can feel silly but gratitude journals can make a large difference. You don’t need to write a large amount, even a few sentences will suffice. The process makes it much easier to see the positive in your life and to focus on the things that actually matter.
- Get some movement in. You don’t have to do a run every morning or a long workout. But, getting some movement into your day can make a huge difference. Stretching out or basic yoga moves are good places to start, especially first thing in the morning. Even dancing around to your favorite song can work wonders.
- Listen to music. While we’re on the topic, music is powerful too. It is a great way to lift your spirits, especially while you’re doing something else. Pick music that makes you feel good and songs that you enjoy.
- Make realistic daily goals. Caregivers often feel like they’re getting nowhere. Having a realistic goal for the day can help mitigate this and make you feel better. This could be as simple as making sure the person you’re caring for eats three meals or ensuring that you get some time outside in the garden. Having a goal can help you be more intentional as well and is a great way to help focus on the good.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. I know, saying ‘don’t stress’ isn’t a very helpful piece of advice. But, we often do get hung up on the small things that really don’t matter. Try to focus on the grand scheme of things, rather than on individual issues that arise. This helps keep things in perspective and can help decrease stress.
- Start the day with nature. If at all possible, get outside first thing in the morning. This may be as simple as standing on the porch drinking your morning coffee (or smoothie). There is something calming about nature and it can get you into a good mindset for the rest of the day.
- Eat well. It’s easy to eat poorly when you’re short on time. But, this always undermines health. Instead, focus on finding ways to eat good food regularly. To do this you may need to look at more meal prep or finding simple high-quality recipes. For example, you might turn to power bowls in the summer and many of these can be easy to make.
- Goof around. Life is so serious and often stressful. Try to find little bits of time to simply be silly and have fun. Perhaps this involves blasting a favorite song and dancing around with a mop. Maybe it’s just spinning around in circles. The answer is going to be different for each person. But, finding time to simply have fun is so important. You don’t have to do so for very long either.
- Unplug from social media. Social media is great but it’s also draining. Make sure you have some time where you don’t have access to any alerts and notifications. You might even turn social media alerts off altogether. Let’s be honest, having your phone bing at you every time something happens on social media is hardly productive.
What about you? What tricks do you use to unwind and de-stress?