Caregiving can be a mentally and physically demanding job. According to a survey by the 2013 State of Caring Survey, 88% of carers said that caring had a negative impact on their health.
As of 2020, Carers UK estimated that there are around 13.6 million people in the UK caring through the pandemic. Whether they are caring for a child, a partner or a parent, the hours of care they provide can often come at a cost to their own health and well-being.
So, it goes without saying, those who provided care to others must also provide care to themselves.
We have broken down the practices caregivers can use to take care of themselves as they look after their loved ones.
1. Schedule “Me Time”
You can start by allocating time for rest in your calendar. Make a note of your downtime in your calendar. Using a calendar is a helpful way to keep track of the amount of rest you’re getting. To provide quality care to your loved ones, you need to take time out to recharge your batteries.
2. Stick to a Healthy Diet and Exercise Plan
It is hard to sustainably care for others when you neglect your physical health. According to a study by the Family Caregiver Alliance, caregivers generally experience increased rates of chronic pain. Furthermore, caregivers tend to have a higher risk of developing serious illnesses.
If you are a caregiver, you should make caring for your physical health a priority.
You can start by setting aside time to plan and prepare your meals each week.
On a busy evening, it will be easier and quicker to cook healthy meals when you plan them beforehand. In between meals, you can munch on nutritious snacks like fruits, veggies and nuts.
Healthy and nutritious food will keep you more refreshed than sugary and starchy snacks.
On top of a healthy diet, physical exercise will also help. Try to add some movement in your routine every day. For example, a quick stroll in the park is a good way to get the blood flowing.
Alternatively, you can experiment with yoga for a gentle way to stay active.
3. Set clear boundaries
To take care of yourself, you need to also set clear boundaries. Start by brainstorming the different ways you can create more space in your schedule for yourself.
Do you instantly begin your caregiving duties right after work? You might want to try adding an hour of exercise first or calling a close friend. Setting boundaries may stir feelings of guilt in some caregivers but allowing your needs to be met can create a healthier relationship between you and the person you are caring for.
Additionally, setting these boundaries can also ease stress.
The Impact of COVID-19
COVID-19 has been challenging for most, but especially for caregivers.
In the last couple of months, it has become apparent that the pandemic will last a lot longer than we initially expected. The number of deaths and cases have continued to rise rapidly.
In the wake of the virus, the NHS and government’s response is crystal clear:
We must act now to control the growth of the virus. To fight the coronavirus, the most important action we can take is to stay at home. It is also vital that we maintain good hygiene by:
- Washing hands
- Wearing masks
- Socially distancing
- Self-isolating where necessary
Unfortunately, with winter ahead of us, there is no escaping the challenge of the spreading coronavirus. The impact of the virus will be greater for some more than others.
Throughout the pandemic, Advanced Care have, and will continue to provide professional, dedicated care to our service users.