Self-care is any activity that we do purposefully in order to take care of our emotional and physical health.
It is a broad concept that incorporates nutrition, lifestyle, physical activities, and personal awareness, to name a few. Self-care is a way for our bodies to refuel. Make no mistake…it is not a selfish act. Good self-care is key to improving mood, reducing anxiety and maintaining a good relationship with oneself and others.
Practicing self-care isn’t always easy. Most people, especially family caregivers, have busy schedules managing the care of a loved one and the needs of their family, friends, and employers. Typically, the caregiver puts themselves last and, when they do take time to focus on their own needs, they tend to feel guilty.
It is important to carve out time for yourself every now and then. Here are 7 ways to get started with your self-care.
Do something you enjoy every day. Engaging in a hobby has been shown to reduce stress and it can even activate genes that increase immunity and decrease inflammation.
Find ways to relax. Start with your breathing. When stressed, breathing is usually flat, short and labored. Our breath goes into our upper chest or shoulders and this type of breathing increases tension. Focus on deeper, slower breaths. In this type of diaphragm breathing, the stomach pushes out as the breath goes in, creating a calming effect.
Keep a gratitude journal. Allocate time (as little as 10 minutes) each day to write down all the things that you’re thankful for, or simply use the opportunity to jot down whatever is on your mind. As you write, mentally release those things onto the page to help clear your head.
Stay connected to others. Carve out an hour each week to be with someone who you love. If they’re far away, give them a phone call.
Ask for help. Big or small, ask family and friends to help you so that you can find time for yourself.
Exercise daily. Being active can help you both physically and mentally. Exercise can boost your mood, reduce stress and anxiety, not to mention help you shed extra weight.
Unplug for an hour. Go on a media and technology fast and turn off any unnecessary electronic devices, even if it’s just for an hour a day. Unplug and enjoy the stillness of your space.
Today is the day you start making you a priority. What is one thing you can do to practice self-care? Share as a comment here or join the conversation on our Facebook page.
In November, we celebrate National Home Care and Family Caregivers Month, observances that are near and dear to us. As always, but especially throughout the month of November, our FirstLight weekly blog will focus on being the CHAMPION of the family caregiver, providing the tools, tips, resources, and peace of mind that so many caregivers need. If you are or have been a family caregiver, we invite you to comment and share your rewarding experiences caring for a loved one, as well as the struggles you have faced throughout your caregiving journey.