Being a caregiver, whether it be for a loved one or it’s your full-time job, can oftentimes leave you feeling isolated and unsupported. It can also lead to an unhealthy lifestyle and even major depression. This is why it’s so very important to take care of yourself!
I know that when I was caring for my father during his pancreatic cancer journey, I was overwhelmed and stressed, despite splitting duties with my mother and sister. For me, this led to sleep deprivation, which punched a serious blow to my immune system that ultimately ushered in a massive infection (from a manicure of all things!) which took me months to resolve! I also struggled with getting my gut health back on track after being on so many rounds of antibiotics. I dealt with brain fog, fatigue, and difficulty with decision making…Do you see how easy it is to let one thing snowball into an avalanche?
I felt like there were really no helpful resources that I could find to aid me with the challenges I was up against. This led me to writing, The Farewell Tour: A Caregiver’s Guide to Stress Management, Sane Nutrition, and Better Sleep (click here to pre-order).With this book, it was my goal to create a sort of handbook with tools that you can reach for when you begin feeling stressed or even burned out.
Here are just a sample of tips that are included in my book to aid in caring for yourself:
Recognize the signs of caregiver burnout. (Page 41) Know the signs; if you’re feeling out of control, have changes in sleep, weight, or appetite, and start feeling depressed and lonely, acknowledge those signs and feelings and try to seek help.
Don’t OD on caffeine and sugar when you’re exhausted. (Page 59) Stress can turn you into a cookie monster and caffeine addict super quick! You raid the sweet shelf and reach for another cup of coffee and before you know it, it’s five o’clock and all you’ve eaten is junk. Come prepared! Keep small bags of whole almonds or sliced bell peppers or a nice Gala apple. Have a cup of herbal tea like peppermint or ginger which is tasty and also good for digestion.
Eat for blood sugar balance (Page 71) Getting a handle on your blood sugar will definitely make a difference in your energy, mood, and stress response. Eating a healthy balance of protein, fat, and fiber will slow your digestive process and decrease spikes in blood sugar. Eating complex carbs throughout the day, like oatmeal and whole grains, as well as sprinkling those fruits and veggies into every meal will give you sustained energy and help you feel better!
Stay Hydrated with H2O! (Page 125) One of the major reasons to drink your water is for brain health. Staying hydrated improves mood, memory, concentration, and even combats general anxiety. A fluid loss of just 2% can lead to headaches, so try drinking a tall glass of water before you reach for that aspirin.
Move your body (even a little bit can help you feel better) (Page 137) Try this on for size – start with an easy goal like “I’ll walk for 5 mintues twice today.” Keep adding to that goal and get moving!
Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. (Page 161) This will not only help you fall asleep quickly but will also improve your sleep quality and even increase melatonin levels and promote glucose disposal which could help if you’re at risk for diabetes.
Release the guilt of taking care of yourself. (Page 188) If you don’t take care of yourself, how will you take care of others? Being riddled with guilt for not doing EVERYTHING for everybody is not good for your psyche or your loved one. Take care of your body and your mental health.
Need organization? (Page 195) You may have a long to-do list and you know there’s no way you’re finishing it today or maybe even this week! Try chunking! Break down that list into smaller pieces so you won’t feel so overwhelmed. Can you only get to the laundry today? Do a small load and be happy that you completed this task!
Laugh it out! (Page 204) You need to make space for joy! Laughter has physical benefits. It helps us better take in oxygen-rich air, which stimulates our organs, improves our stress response, and eases tension.
Take a break and meditate! (Page 219) To avoid becoming overwhelmed, change your environment if possible in small increments. Take a break outside and get some fresh air or even move to another room, close your eyes, and practice quiet time or some kind of gentle mantra to lift your own spirits.
Accept that your relationships will change. (Page 237) Give yourself permission to set boundaries with others. Make sure you communicate clearly to others about your situation and how much time you can dedicate to them.
Difficult conversations about end-of-life care. (Page 257) Be mindful about the conversations you have with the terminally ill person you are caring for. Ask them what they want to do. Death is a very difficult subject, so let them talk so that they may find peace and heal.
If you’re a caregiver or know someone who is currently caring for a loved one or just like the tips I have shared with you so far, I encourage you to pre-order The Farewell Tour here!
Thank you so much for connecting with me today and please be sure to sign up for my newsletter for more valuable tips and healthy living! Sending good vibes!
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