BCSLA’s Favourite Self-Care Tips for Caregivers
Caregiving can be an exhausting role to fill, continuously giving physical and emotional attention to those most in need. If that isn’t enough, extra curveballs can come flying in, like financial stress, family drama, and social withdrawal. The burden can be significant, which is why taking the time for self-care needs to be a big part of a caregiver’s job.
The British Columbia Seniors Living Association (BCSLA) is a firm believer that the more a caregiver’s cup is filled, the more they can fill others. So we want to break down six of our favourite self-care tips for recharging when caregiving.
Eat Highly Nutritious Foods
Have you heard the saying, “food is medicine”? This couldn’t be truer for caregivers who need the utmost resilience, patience, and energy. Keeping an eye on having a balanced diet of nutrient-dense greens, quality protein, plant-based fats, and complex carbs will keep a caregiver’s health, stamina, and immune system up by fueling the body from every angle.
Get Some Fresh Air
It turns out it’s true; nature really does heal! Studies have shown that trees actually give off an immune-boosting chemical, and their leaf patterns can actually trigger our neurons to release anxiety. So, this summer, try to make time every day to enjoy the outdoors.
Spend Uninterrupted Time with Loved Ones
Within the last year, we have been faced with the scary realities of social isolation. Lack of social interactions can have a huge impact on our mental health, affecting every other aspect of our lives. Maintaining your health as a caregiver should include good times with family and friends in your self-care plan.
Talk About It
Having uninterrupted time with friends and family not only includes good times, sometimes it means talking through our problems. Our support systems go beyond distraction; they help us feel secure, safe, and work through our obstacles. Next time you take a break to visit friends, take some time to vent or share what’s going on. You’d be surprised just how they can help!
Take Sleep Quality Seriously
Sleep is the one time our body is forced to relax, recharge, and heal. Studies have shown it isn’t enough just to get a good amount of sleep, but rather to get the best quality of sleep. Our mind goes through various cycles of sleep to rest and rejuvenate, but when these cycles are interrupted or lacking, we do not fully recharge for the next day. This can lead to burnout, sickness, fatigue, and lack of resilience and empathy while caregiving. Caregivers who put their sleep quality as a top priority are able to provide better care for those they support.
Mindfulness is practicing to live and think in the moment, encouraging our fight or flight responses to stay dormant. Taking care of another human being can trigger many stressors, turning on a caregiver’s nervous system. By purposely taking moments throughout your day for mindfulness, your anxiety will soothe, allowing your immune systems to stay strong, your mind to make better decisions, and your psychological health to stand firm.
If you’re still unsure whether you lack self-care as a caregiver, try British Columbia’s self-assessment tool or check out Family Caregivers of British Columbia’s caregiver support plan to take care of your health.