You are at your best as a caregiver when you are in great shape mentally and emotionally. This starts with taking care of yourself.
My last post Step 1: How SAAD* are you? was a request to start by “checking in” on your emotional health. Physical problems such as headache, upset stomach and fatigue are sometimes the body’s way of expressing stress. Confusion can also be sign of being overwhelmed.
Step 2 is about scheduling at least 10 minutes a day to take care of yourself. Think of this time as a daily vitamin for emotional wellbeing. Develop a healthy self-care habit by choosing activities that are easy, enjoyable, and invigorating.
Some examples and categories of activities
Text or call a friend for a brief chat or laugh
Relax with a pet
Sit down, take a deep breath.
Inhale very slowly through the nose and take oxygen deep into the lungs
Exhale and gently say: “my body is releasing tension”.
Repeat 5 times
Do this as many times a day as needed.
Listen to music
Watch a short funny video and laugh
Listen to a book or a podcast.
Have a hobby or favorite game such as knitting, gardening, drawing, playing music or solving a puzzle.
Take care of your body
Do a little exercise
Treat yourself to a mini massage of hands, feet, calves, or face (wash hands before and after!!)
Pray, meditate, or write
Think about your day:
what went well and what didn’t,
your worries and wishes
something that you are grateful for.
More than 10 minutes may be needed. Try taking longer breaks or multiple breaks throughout the day. When you are emotionally drained, take a break because working harder does not make things better. Try different activities until you find out what works best for you.
What activity will you try? Check one or more
Be connected, stay strong
P.S. If you feel like crying or shouting once in a while, that’s ok. It’s part of being human.
My goal is to help caregivers build resilience, especially now with the COVID-19 crisis.
Send me a note at COVID19caregiving.com
Recognize when stress is more severe. Extreme stress can lead to feelings of helplessness, withdrawal, or uncontrolled and sometimes dangerous emotions such as severe depression. At these times, take action and contact a health professional or spiritual guide. If you feel like hurting yourself, confide in someone you trust right away. You can always call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or send a message to the Crisis Text Line (Text “HOME” To 741741). Services like these are actively ramping up their support networks amid the pandemic.