Anyone who has ever been a carer for any length of time knows that caring is by no means an easy thing to do, no matter how much you love the person you are caring for and no matter how rewarding it may be for you. It is hard work and it can often be upsetting and demoralizing, and this is exactly why you need to take regular time out to care for yourself when you are someone who cares for others.
That being the case, below, we’ll get into some of the best self-care ideas for carers, because just like superheroes, carers need to hang up their capes and put up their feet from time to time.
Table of Contents
Recognize Your Superpowers — and Your Limits
First things first, let’s address the invisible cape you wear: it's woven with threads of compassion, resilience, and patience. But even the strongest materials have their limits. Recognizing your boundaries is the first step to self-care. It’s about understanding that to give your best, you must feel your best. That means setting realistic expectations for what you can do in a day and giving yourself permission to say, “That’s enough for now.”
A Dose of Daily Zen
Every carer's toolkit should include a daily dose of zen. That could be a morning meditation session where you visualize your day going smoothly, or an evening gratitude practice where you jot down the things that went well. This isn't about adding another task to your list, but rather about finding a peaceful moment in your day that's just for you.
Home Care Assistance: Your Backup Team
There’s absolutely no shame in calling in the reinforcements. Using home care assistance can take the pressure off, even if it's just for a few hours a week. Think of it as calling in a fellow superhero to co-pilot while you recharge your batteries. Whether it’s professional home care services or a trusted friend or family member, having someone else step in can give you the space to breathe and tend to your own needs.
Your Body Is Your Temple
When you’re caring for someone else, it’s easy to forget about your own physical needs. Your body is your temple, and it deserves worship, aka regular exercise, nutritious food, and enough sleep. Consider meal prep services if you're short on time, or a quick at-home workout to keep the blood pumping. Remember, a healthier you means a more resilient carer.
Find Your Tribe
Isolation can be a carer's kryptonite. It’s crucial to connect with others who understand the unique challenges you face. So, be sure to look for support groups, either in person or online. These tribes can become your personal cheer squad, a place to vent, or a source of helpful tips from those who walk the walk.
Laugh, Love, Live
Laughter is often the best medicine, so prescribe yourself a hearty dose. Watch a comedy, reminisce over funny memories, or just be silly for the sake of it. Love is another critical ingredient in the self-care recipe — love for yourself, love for life, and love for the person you care for. No matter how stressful your caring regimen may be, you need to remember to actually live, and laughing with good friends is a great way to do that.
Pamper Your Soul
When things are getting on top of you, then it is time to pamper your soul. This could mean doing something as simple as running yourself a hot bubble bath or going for a walk in the local park – it does not matter what you do as long as it is something that lifts your spirits and makes you feel more whole; more connected with life and the worlds around you. Indulge in whatever activity makes you feel like you’re giving your soul a giant, warm hug and you will instantly feel a whole lot better.
Tech to the Rescue
These days, it’s fair to say that there’s an app for almost everything you could possibly need and self-care for carers is no exception. Apps can help you manage your time, remind you to take your self-care breaks, or guide you through calming exercises, so it makes sense to have a look at what is available, and what will help you the most, and have them ready and waiting on your phone for when you have time to use them.
Education as Empowerment
Knowledge is power, and the more you understand about the specific needs of the person you’re caring for, the more in control you'll feel about things for sure. But don’t stop there. Educate yourself about self-care techniques that can help you cope with the pressure of being a carer, too. The more tools you have in your self-care arsenal, the better prepared you'll be to face each day. So, whether you download Headspace and learn how to meditate or you go to yoga to learn how to build functional muscle that will help you with lifting and fetching, never stop educating yourself.
Set Sail on Mini Escapes
When you're a carer, it can be possible to get away from it all for long periods of time to give yourself a break because you have someone who is relying on you for their needs. But, you know what? You don't have to book a two-week vacation to feel refreshed (though if you can, more power to you!). Mini escapes can be just as rejuvenating. This could be something as simple as a walk around the block, a drive with no destination in mind, or a few hours at a local coffee shop or library where you can just relax. Make it happen and you will feel so much of the pressure released from you in an instant.
Celebrate Your Achievements
At the end of each day, try to take a moment to celebrate your achievements, and be mindful that it’s not just about the big wins, but also the small victories that often go unnoticed. Did you manage to drink enough water today? Celebrate it! Successfully balanced your caregiving duties with a moment of self-care? Give yourself a pat on the back. The more gratitude you have for life and the more you notice all of the things you do well, the easier life will be.
Embrace the Power of No
Carers often feel compelled to say yes to everything that is asked of them, but it's crucial to embrace the power of no if you want to make time for yourself and free up some much-needed headspace. Setting boundaries is a form of self-respect and self-care for us all, so it really is okay to decline requests or invitations when you're overwhelmed. Protecting your energy is not selfish; it's necessary.
Cultivate Indoor Green Spaces
Plants can be more than just decoration; they're known to have a calming effect on the mind. Cultivating a small indoor garden or even a few houseplants can improve air quality and provide a sense of nurturing and growth.
Caring for another person is undoubtedly one of the most selfless things another person can do, but in doing this incredibly selfless thing, you do not want to end up losing yourself completely, so it is totally fine, and even beneficial for your health, and the wellbeing of the person you care for, for you to be selfish once in a while. So. put your feet up take a breath and maybe try out one or more of the self-care practices on this list. Fill your cup so you can better take care of your loved one and you will all be better for it.