How to Stay Healthy as a Caregiver

You love your care recipient and do everything you can to make them happy. You want the best for them. But while you're busy caring for someone else's needs, neglecting your own wellness is easy. The best way to avoid illness and caregiver burnout is to take the following steps to reduce stress and maintain your physical and mental health, brought to you today by The Purple Vine.

Limit Caffeine and Sugar

As a caregiver, you probably don't get enough sleep because you're awake with your loved one for much of the night. Getting proper rest is vital to staying healthy and reducing stress, so make it a point to get at least eight hours of sleep every night. The last thing you want to do is add caffeine or sugar to your system before bedtime, as both can keep you awake longer than necessary. Instead, reduce caffeine and sugar intake before 3 p.m. to fall asleep faster and rest adequately.


Eat Healthy Foods

Maintaining a healthy diet is often difficult for caregivers because they're so busy with work, errands, caring for their loved ones, and everything else involved in caregiving that they may skip meals or eat on the run. However, eating well can reduce stress and strengthen your immune system, helping you avoid illness.

The best way to adopt more nutritious eating habits is to plan and prepare a weekly menu of healthy foods. Once a week, make a shopping list that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and fish, low-fat dairy products, whole-grain bread and pasta, and nuts and seeds.


Go Back to School

If you're looking for a way to build confidence and promote wellness, going back to school is a great place to start! This can open lots of doors in terms of your future career – and thanks to the flexibility of online learning, you can study at your own pace without having to step away from your other responsibilities. There are plenty of degree options, as well. For example, if you are interested in the human mind's inner workings, you can feed your interest and broaden your career options with an online psych degree.

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Spend Time With Friends

Sometimes, caregiving is all-consuming, and losing track of your friends and family is easy. However, keeping up with your social life is the best way to stay healthy. Make it a point to call, text, or email friends daily and schedule time to hang out with them regularly.

You can even ask friends to join you on walks during your breaks. Getting out into nature has been scientifically proven to improve mood and stress levels. Add some social time with friends and have a perfect midday break! Take a few laps around the block or find a nearby park to walk through together. Your body and mind will thank you for it!


Find a Creative Hobby

Hobbies can be an effective way to reduce stress, maintain your mental health, and give you an escape from daily responsibilities. What interests you? The possibilities are endless and may include painting, knitting, cooking, scrapbooking, photography, or playing an instrument. Pick up a new hobby and make time for it regularly.


Care for Your Body

It's easy for caregivers to get so absorbed in caring for others that they neglect their own self-care. Make time for restorative practices, like meditation or yoga. Also, keep up with your preventative healthcare. As a caregiver, you know it's best to discover problems early or prevent them altogether, so practice what you preach. If you freelance as a caregiver and don't have health insurance, now is the time to look into the affordable options through your state. There are several tiers of coverage to choose from, and the programs supplement a decent percentage depending on your income.


Hire a Service to Reduce Your Workload

You may feel like you have to do it all, but hiring a cleaning or yard service can give you a few extra hours per week to care for yourself if you have room in your budget. Spend your spare time at the gym, with friends, or exploring your new hobby. If you hire someone to help with cleaning, give them a list of safe, carcinogen-free cleaning products they can use. Some store-bought brands have harmful chemicals that can put you and the person you care for at risk. However, plenty of products on the market are much safer and can easily be swapped out.

A lawn care company can handle several labor-intensive jobs, including pruning, trimming, mulching, and mowing your lawn to keep it healthy and beautiful. Some specialize in fertilizing lawns and applying substances to eliminate weeds and pests. The costs vary depending on the services you choose.


Care for Yourself so You can be There for Others.

The life of a caregiver isn't always easy, but it can be extremely rewarding. To ensure you're at your best, invest some time in self-care, whether that means returning to school, investing in safe cleaning products, or being more active. This isn't just for your own sake but for those you care for!

Guest post by Teresa Greenhill at Mental Health for Seniors

The Purple Vine is here to support caregivers. Let us know if you have any questions!


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I am an author, speaker, caregiver, and Grammy. The latter is by far the most fun! Having been a primary caregiver 3x, I realized so many lessons were learned too late to benefit my Dad who passed of Parkinson's Disease. I resolved to write a book to make life easier and safer for other caregivers that would get them ideas, inspiration, and lessons learned. It's called "Caregiving: How To Hold On While Letting Go" available on Amazon. I am a Certified Caregiver Consultant and Advocate as well as a Community Educator for the Alzheimer's Assoc. and Founder of The PurpleVine LLC

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