Caregiving, without a doubt, is the most difficult but rewarding job. Being someone who is responsible for taking care of a person unable to take care of themselves is both a privilege and a huge challenge. For example, you’ll be faced with a lot of tasks to juggle, from following the medication schedule to helping to get dressed for a walk.
Of course, a caregiver can do all those things. But at the same time, the job may become much harder than it needs to be, than it should be. The feeling of being overloaded with work may become overwhelming when the job dishes one daunting challenge after another.
However, instead of crying self to sleep trying to deal with all the difficulties, a caregiver needs to find another way to stay on track and stay focused.
And there is a way. In fact, there are many ways to cope with the challenges of the job. And you should use them to avoid overlooking your own well-being.
What are The Most Important Challenges for Caregivers?
A recent survey by National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) identified top concerns of caregivers that we’re going to use to develop tips for staying on track.
Here are the results.
Image Source: NFCA/Allsup Family Caregiver Survey
Want to Provide Good Care of Others? Learn How to Take Care of yourself
“Many caregivers downgrade the importance of taking care of themselves,” says Miranda Brooks, a psychologist at Prowritingpartner. However, it is an essential requirement of the job because taking care of self improves the quality of care one provides.
As the NFCA survey showed, taking care of personal health is among the top priorities of modern caregivers. If you feel like this applies to you as well, follow the recommendations of the National Institute of Aging:
- Avoid quick-fix snacks like candies, chips, doughnuts, and cookie are not a good energy fix because they provide little energy and lead to an unwanted weight gain
- Don’t overdo caffeine. For a hard working person, it may be tempting to increase the daily amount of caffeine. However, there is a good chance that it will keep you awake when you need to sleep, so stick to your usual amount of caffeine.
- Eat grains (whole grain foods), dairy (low- or non-fat products), proteins (fish, poultry, nuts, beans, and use healthy cooking methods such as broiling and baking), and vegetables and fruits (whole fruits and vegetables, at least 5 servings per day).
- Take exercise breaks throughout the working day. For example, instead of doing one 20-minute workout, try doing two 10-minute mini versions. The list of appropriate exercises includes chair squats, modified push-ups, and abdominal and oblique crunches.
- Roll out a mat and do yoga for 10-15 minutes. For example, a morning routine for energy will increase your energy levels.
- Take a walk. Walking, especially in nature (your nearest park will do great) calms you down and refreshes.
Take time for yourself.
- Take an occasional nap. A quick nap can refresh you and even reduce your risk of coronary heart disease.
- Instead of dealing with emotions by yourself, seek professional counseling if needed.
- Take time for your hobbies. Painting, reading, whatever you like, just spend at least an hour a week doing what you love.
An Expert’s Advice
There are many effective approaches to mitigate and eliminate depression, anxiety, and stress in caregivers. One of them was developed by a psychologist Dr. Kristin Neff, a professor from the University of Texas in Austin and an expert in self-compassion (giving the same sympathy to yourself as you would give to a friend).
She studied the area of self-compassion and found that it can help caregivers to deal with negative emotions related to their job. To help caregivers practice self-compassion the right way, she developed 15 exercises that can be accessed on her website for free.
Here’s an example of an exercise.
Exercise 4: The criticizer, the criticized, and the compassionate observer
The purpose of this exercise is to get in touch with conflicting parts of yourself and experience how each of them makes you feel. You need thee chairs for this: one for inner self-critic, one for the voice of the part of you that feels judged, and one for the voice of a compassionate observer.
Thank you for reading. Hope this article helped you to recognize issues you have to be on the lookout for as a caregiver. Remember: don’t overlook your own well-being. Taking care of yourself will help the one you care for as well.
Lucy Benton is a writing coach, an editor who finds her passion in expressing own thoughts as a blogger, and currently works at www.assignmenthelper.com.au. She is constantly looking for the ways to improve her skills and expertise. If you’re interested in working with Lucy, you can find her on Twitter.