Find Time to Take Care of Yourself
So often, I focus my blogs on expecting and new moms and parents , or those who struggle to find balance between exercise and work, study or any number of things. Today, though, I want to focus on caregivers.
According to the National Institute on Aging at the NIH, approximately 15 million Americans provide care (unpaid) for an older adult, whether it be a parent, a sibling, a spouse, or close friend or family member. Though being a caregiver can be rewarding, those who are involved in care coordination and medical management are at risk for physical and emotional health problems.
As I’ve mentioned, 2019 is a time for health, for exercise, for nutrition. So how can that happen when there’s such a heavy load on us, when time and money are so tight.
- Understand its importance. Exercise and nutrition have a direct link to mental health. Caregiving is highly stressful, and your body needs all the reinforcements it can get. Be aware that this isn’t capricious. It’s fundamental.
- Pump it up. Walk, clean, vacuum in time to your favorite music. Keep moving. Break a sweat. Make sure you have at least 30 minutes of upbeat music to keep you moving!
- Take short breaks. It’s hard to find a space for a 40-minute chunk of time. Breaking exercise down into three or four short breaks, ten minutes each, will give you the exercise your body needs, and it won’t take away from the needs of the person you’re caring for. Ten-minute workouts cover everything from cardio to toning, yoga to specific muscle groups. Every little bit counts. Some popular apps you can download on your phone include STREAKS WORKOUT, Johnson & Johnson 7-minute workout (down to 7!), and SWORKIT https://sworkit.com/.
- Book it. Just as you book doctor’s and dentist’s appointments, book exercise in your schedule. And stick to it. Remember, this is for you. So, when your phone alarm beeps – 10 minutes for exercise – start walking, running, jogging in place, do your app … whatever you need to stick to your schedule. Ask for help. Perhaps during your exercise schedule, someone can relieve you for the 30 minutes – 1 hour you need.
- Exercise with the person you’re caring for. Can you be active together? Weather permitting, can you take a walk outside? Can the person you’re caring for hold you accountable? Perhaps they’d love to be your coach! Can you walk to the grocery store together? Do you garden? There are many ways to be active while being a caregiver, and these activities might enhance your days together. Certainly, consult with your medical provider before sky diving together.
Being a caregiver is demanding. It can take a mental and physical toll on anyone. By finding spaces, carving out time, to exercise, you’re not only going to better be able to take care of yourself but also the person you are caring for.