The silhouette of a man's face in profile with stars on it also contains the figure of a man doing the warrior pose, balancing on a wooden plank.

Avoid Burnout By Taking Time For Yourself 

I have a hard time saying “no” to things, especially when they are in relation to my advocacy for Alzheimer’s. I know there are caregivers out there who don’t get to say “no” to things. I know that I am in a unique position to lend my story and my name to help advance research and legislation that will improve the lives of this community.

My cup is empty

So, I often don’t bat an eyelash when something is asked of me: Go to Harrisburg to discuss the cause with legislators during the week. I took a vacation day, woke up at 5 a.m. and made it to Harrisburg. Add one more meeting to the schedule? Sure, that can fit right between a full workday and my yoga class if I take the call in my car. Point is, I can lose sight of one crucial fact: I cannot fill up someone else’s cup if mine is empty.

Five self-care practices

As such, I’ve developed some boundaries and self-care routines to keep my body and mind healthy and working so that I can give more of myself to this cause. Here are a few of them.

5:30 a.m. wake up

I get up each weekday morning at 5:30 a.m. to start my morning focusing on me. I will do some reading for personal development, journal, practice gratitude, maybe workout or take a walk or stretch. I do not look at my phone during this time period.

Yoga practice

I have a yoga practice that I am very strict about. It includes 75-minute classes on Monday and Tuesday evenings. I schedule around these for things like conference calls with the Alzheimer’s Association. These yoga sessions provide 75 minutes for me to be with my own thoughts, to nourish my soul and to recharge.

Nature walks

When I moved to my current apartment, I found this beautiful trail that actually follows a route previously used by a train. It’s relatively flat and scenic, following Pennypack creek. Taking a walk regularly here is both good fitness and allows me to mentally detach. Bonus points for the fact that I don’t always have cell service along this way.

Guided meditations

I have multiple meditation apps on my phone. I’ve used Headspace, Breethe, Asana Rebel, and Relax+. Having tried them all, I can tell you that you can’t go wrong with any. And the right one for you will often depend on your financial commitment and tastes. (All have free content available.) All provide tracks, of varying times from a few mins to more than 60, that are part music and part guide to provide a brief oasis in your day to turn your thoughts inward.

Take a few minutes for you

At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. You have to be able to take these few minutes to hours to days for yourself in order to be able to give to others. I know you may disagree, or say that it's impossible as a caregiver. However, if you don't put some time in your day to take care of your mind and body -- who will?

What are your favorite self-care practices? Share in the comment section below or write about your own experience by clicking the "share your story" button below.

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