It’s always stressful providing care for older parents or loved ones. Managing their finances, making appointments and preparing meals for them while still maintaining your own household is far from a leisurely task. It’s easy to forget about your own health when worrying about everyone else’s. But stress can damage your body and cause your mental health to suffer as well. Take these tips for managing your stress levels and staying healthy while providing care for your loved ones.
It’s no surprise that staying active is good stress relief. Exercise is proven to boost levels of serotonin, the “happy chemical,” in your brain, according to Psychology Today. Not only that, but going to the gym or even just walking can make you feel stronger and better about yourself. Find an activity you enjoy, whether it’s yoga, jogging or something similar, and plan to do it at least three times a week. It may help to find a gym close to your loved one’s assisted care community so you can more easily add it in to your schedule.
When you’re busy caring for others, it can be tempting to eat whatever’s easiest and quickest to prepare. However, those are rarely the healthiest options. Make sure you’re sticking to a well-balanced diet and eating meals regularly. It may be beneficial to prepare several large portions of food at the beginning of the week and package it up for both you and your loved ones. Try healthy casserole recipes from Fitness Magazine, like zucchini rice and green bean, that stay tasty even when they’re reheated.
Find a healthy hobby
If you’ve always had a knack for arts and crafts or playing a musical instrument, this is the time you should pursue it. Since your schedule is packed, it may seem counterintuitive to take time to focus on your own interests. However, setting aside even 30 minutes twice a week to just listen to music or start a new DIY project is important to helping you recharge. It could make you happier and, in turn, better company when visiting your loved one.
Connect with other caregivers
When you’re trying to balance your life with providing care, it can be an alienating experience. But there are many others in your position who have the same struggles as you. Check online to find a caregiver support group where you can share stories and relieve your stress. Sometimes it’s just nice to know that you’re a part of a group of people who understand.