If you saw my previous post, or saw my twitter account in May, you know I last month I was taking care of a family member that had a medical emergency. Although my family member is still on the road to recovery, this is not the first time I had to take care of a sick family member. Because of this, I felt inspired to share some health tips that helped me keep myself healthy despite the stress of being a care giver of a loved one.
The first time I became a care giver, I did not eat healthy. The reason why I did not eat healthy at that time is complicated (A mixture of inexperience cooking on my own and obtaining the necessary groceries within a 20 mile radius of where my family member lived) but as time passed I learned how to cook myself healthy food that tasted very good. As I ate healthier, I found I had more energy and felt better. This helped me immensely as I took care of my family member.
My diet at that time was composed of foods that suited my body the best, but as a general rule eat fruits and vegetables. Also, eat protein and carbs. Both provide energy that is needed to take care of someone as well as keeps the stomach full longer (Depending on how the body burns food), very useful when taking a break and eating a snack is impossible.
Exercise was not on my mind when I was a care giver for the first time. I thought was already working hard physically to take care of my family member so why would I need exercise? Although I did not need to work out to loose weight, I needed it to do something to relieve my stress and do something physically besides care giving. It gave me the time to focus on what I wanted to do and to listen to whatever music I enjoyed.
Even though I did not need to exercise to loose weight, this isn’t the case for everyone. Depending on who needs to be care given, the care giver may need to exercise because their focus is always on something else besides maintaining healthy physical activity. For this reason, exercise is even more important for a care giver because it helps their overall health and allows them to do a better job care giving.
Sleep was a precious thing that always eluded me. I could never get enough because I was either working on taking care of my family member late into the night or wide awake with worry about my family member. And, even I did go to sleep at a reasonable time, I would often wake up in the middle of the night to take care of my family member. Since I did not go to sleep or get a full night’s rest, my sleep patterns became erratic. It wasn’t until I started to go to bed at a specific time and wake up at a specific time that my sleep patterns began to straighten out. It was tough to force myself to go to sleep at a specific time every night when I couldn’t go to sleep immediately or was so tired I didn’t want to get up in the morning, but maintaining the sleep pattern despite not sleeping or not wanting to get up became important to recreating a stable sleep pattern. Even if I overslept or stayed awake longer than I wanted to, I could not give up because sleep gave me the energy to be a better care giver.
Pray, Meditate, and/or Take Time to Relax
Care giving is not just hard on a person’s physical heath, but also metal health. Care giving is draining emotionally and mentally, especially if the family member suffers from an extended illness. Making time, even if it’s just five minutes, to relax, pray, meditate, or do whatever is needed to recharge and regain composure and mental peace is just as important to gaining the energy and drive to continue being the best care giver you can be.
Well, that’s all for now! I hope this helped you or someone you know, or gave you some insight in the health problems care givers can have. Thank you for reading!