I am the Marketing Manager at Plan A Long Term Care Staffing & Recruitment, where I work diligently to ensure our brand reaches our target audience so that we can hire the most compassionate and dependable health care professionals. And while I may not be a nurse or PSW, I have witnessed firsthand how rewarding caring for our most vulnerable truly is. Being someone’s support during a difficult stage in their life teaches you resilience that you never knew you had, gives you complete empathy for others, and can bring you much joy. At the same time, I have also witnessed just how taxing caring for someone else can be. Too often, caregivers are becoming burnt out from a lack of support and resources, and are often left feeling mentally, emotionally and physically drained. Today, I wanted to write a blog to encourage caregivers to apply the same level of care for themselves as they do when caring for others.
Below is a list of ways you can implement simple self-care tasks into your life to help alleviate stress, burnout, and fatigue:
- Talk to someone. Even if you feel like the weight of caring for your loved one or client/resident rests solely on your shoulders, please reach out to a friend, family member or professional to let them know exactly how you are feeling. Know that you do not have to face any hardships alone. It’s better to be proactive about this and reach out to someone at the onset of caring for another individual to establish a solid support system.
- Write it out. While it’s good to talk to someone about what you’re going through, writing is also an incredibly powerful and therapeutic way to express yourself. Try keeping a journal to dump your thoughts into on a daily or weekly basis. Write about your frustrations, your successes, your own personal self-care goals, and memories/moments you’ve shared with the individual you are caring for.
- Eat sensibly. After a long day of caring for someone, it’s easy to make unhealthy eating choices because of the convenience. Consider preparing healthy food options ahead of time to reheat, choose nutritious and satiating snacks, and ensure you are eating a healthy breakfast, and still consuming all of your meals no matter how hectic things get. You need healthy food to fuel your mind and body to care for your loved one (and yourself).
- Get extra sleep. It’s easy after a long day of work to want to go home, lay on the couch, and squeeze in “just one more episode” of your favourite show. Before you know it, it’s almost midnight and you need to be up in a few hours. Skip the tv, opt for reading a few chapters of a great book, and get as much sleep in as possible. Your body and mind will thank you.
- Exercise. It might seem difficult to squeeze some time into your day to get your body moving, but it can be as easy as taking a walk, using the stairs over the elevator whenever possible, or even completing some light physical activity with the individual you are caring for.
- Enjoy the sunshine. Whenever possible, be sure to soak up some vitamin D and fill your lungs with some fresh air.
- Take time for you. Whenever you have a moment to spare, do something that makes YOU happy, such as enjoying a bath, reading a book, trying a new recipe, going to see a movie, and more. Use your passions and hobbies to help refuel you.
- Laugh. You know what they say, laughter is the best medicine. Watch a comedy, reconnect with an old friend, listen to a podcast, and spend time with your loved ones.
There you have it—8 ways to implement simple self-care tasks in your daily life. Feel free to share this with all the health care professionals in your life, and those who have taken on the role of a caregiver for a loved one.
~ Megan Patrakka, Marketing Manager, Plan A Long Term Care Staffing & Recruitment / StaffStat