A woman sits in a meditative yoga pose as a journal, browser windows, aroma diffuser, and paintbrush float around her representing different self-care practices.

Trending Caregiver Practices for Self-Care

Are you a family caregiver who is feeling mentally and physically drained lately? Taking care of a family member can be challenging. As a caregiver for over 10 years, I completely understand. Duly noted is the lack of care we offer to ourselves in this demanding role.

The ongoing stress, worry, and constant demands quickly took a toll on my own health and well-being. With self-care strategies and support, I coped better as a caregiver.

Self-care was essential to my well-being. It helped me to provide better care to my mom, who had Alzheimer's.

Let's look at some trending caregiver practices I used for self-care. Hopefully, you will find something to lower your stress levels and improve your quality of life.

Mindfulness meditation

At the start of my day as a caregiver, I always woke up ready for any emergency or situation that would come up - I was on high alert. I would easily get overwhelmed and anxious. This inevitably affected my mood and interactions with my loved one. I didn't find peace of mind or stay present in the moment. I then discovered mindfulness meditation.

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on your breath. Be aware of your thoughts and emotions without judgment or guilt. I practiced this form of meditation. I placed my hand on my heart and took intentional breaths. I inhaled for 3 seconds and exhaled for 4.

This helped me to quiet my racing thoughts and reduce stress levels. I incorporated this practice into my daily routine. I found myself more focused, patient, and better able to handle the challenges of caregiving.

Not sure how to get started with meditation? Try downloading a meditation app like Headspace or Calm. They offer guided meditation sessions ranging from a few minutes to an hour long. YouTube also has some great videos on mindful meditation.

Virtual therapy

Another great way that I cared for myself was by talking to a therapist. Given the option of in-person sessions or virtual, I opted for the most accessible and convenient in my caregiving life.

Through virtual therapy, I was able to connect with a licensed therapist from the comfort of my own home. It allowed me to stay calm, grounded, and cope with my overwhelming emotions. Therapy helped me to open up about my struggles and receive support and guidance on how to cope with them.

If you are new to therapy, don't be afraid to shop around until you find the right fit for you. It took me a few trials before I found my current therapist, and I have been with for them for the last 3 years.

Therapists have different approaches. It's important to find someone who you feel comfortable talking to. It's also important to find someone who understands your specific needs as a caregiver.

Yoga

Moving my body was a great way that I cared for myself. Unlike joining a gym and leaving my house, I practiced yoga at home.

This low-impact exercise allowed me to find peace and calm in the chaos of my responsibilities. It also helped me build strength and flexibility, both physically and mentally. The mindfulness aspect of yoga taught me how to be present in the moment and let go of stress and worry.

If you've never practiced yoga before, don't worry! There are many beginner-friendly yoga videos available on YouTube. You can do them from home. Some yoga studios also offer virtual classes. I found that even just 15 minutes a day made a big difference in my mental well-being.

Essential oils

Essential oils were another great way I introduced self-care into my everyday routine. Aromatherapy helped me reduce my anxiety, feel more energized, and promote better sleep. I used scents to calm my anxiety. I put peppermint oil behind my earlobes and on my wrists. For those days I felt I was dragging and barely making it through, I used citrus oils in my diffuser. To promote better sleep - a few drops of lavender on my pillow did the trick.

This practice is one of my favorites especially because it can also benefit your loved one. My mom felt refreshed and calm thanks to essential oils like lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus oil. This was a huge help to combat her sundowning episodes.

Healthy snacks

Eating healthy is important. However, it can be challenging to find snacks that are both delicious and nutritious. As caregivers we need all the fuel we can get, and that is why snacking on healthy foods is a great self-care practice.

I called in the big guns for this. I worked with a dietitian. They offered guidance on healthier snacks. They also suggested meals that would leave me fuller longer. My dietitian taught me how to listen to my body and to pay attention to my triggers. Triggers like extreme exhaustion could mean my body was lacking in energy or hydration.

Some of my favorite snacks include nuts, fruits, and protein bars. Try to keep a stash of your favorite snacks on hand, so you can reach for them when you need a quick pick-me-up.

Gratitude journaling

When my life felt really overwhelming, it was easy to get bogged down by all the negative feelings. Practicing gratitude helped me shift my focus to the positives in my life.

I started keeping a gratitude journal, where I would write down 3 things I was grateful for each day. It could be something as simple as having a roof over my head or spending quality time with my mom and seeing her smile.

This helped improve my mood. It also helped me appreciate the little things in life and find joy even in difficult times.

Try setting aside a few minutes each day to write down 3 things you are grateful for in a journal. You might also use the social media stories feature. You can chronicle your daily gratitude there.

Creative outlet

Sometimes, taking care of myself meant stepping outside of my caregiving duties. I did something that brought me joy, like coloring, cooking, or writing.

At first, this was a challenge for me to practice. I felt guilty and selfish having fun when my loved one was declining. Speaking with my therapist I realized that taking care of myself was essential in order for me to take care of my loved one.

Instead of being scared to take a break I started finding activities to do each day that were creative and enjoyable. These creative outlets helped me destress so that when I came back to my caregiver role I had a refreshed mind.

Don't be afraid to take breaks and find activities that bring you joy. This could be anything from painting to gardening, or even just taking a walk in nature. Finding moments of self-care helped me prevent burnout. It can do the same for you, mentally and emotionally.

Self-care everyday

Self-care everyday may seem like a far fetched idea for us caregivers. However, it is actually possible with strategy and intention.

One way to incorporate self-care into our daily routines is by starting small. This could mean taking just 15 minutes in the morning for a quiet cup of coffee or tea. You could also listen to a book or podcast. Or, you could practice mindfulness through meditation or breathing exercises. These brief moments of self-care have a significant impact on my mental and emotional well-being. They have also made me a more balanced caregiver to my mom.

Tending to our physical and mental health is equally essential. It can improve our overall quality of life. There are various ways to incorporate self-care into our everyday routine. These include mindfulness meditation and creative outlets. I hope this has given you some new ideas that you can incorporate into your daily life. Remember, taking care of yourself is not selfish - it is necessary.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AlzheimersDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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