Information and resources that support your role in caring for a loved one.

This post has been written by Renee D’Argento, Healthy Living Program Coordinator at BayPath.  Renee has a B.S. in Physical Education/ Exercise Science from UMass Boston and a Health Management Certificate from the Graduate School of Public Health at UMass Lowell. Learn more about our Healthy Living program 

Caregiving of our loved ones can bring enormous rewards as well as great demands and challenges.  

It is typical for caregivers to be so consumed with the daily caring of their person’s increasing needs and decreasing abilities, that they often ignore taking care of their own needs.

Please know that you are not alone in sometimes feeling overwhelmed by the demands of caregiving and that you have little time. You may be dealing with difficult emotions such as sadness, negative feelings/thoughts, and even guilt. This is normal.

But, if these feelings are preventing you from acting on your responsibilities, realize that it has been shown that those who take the time to take good care of themselves – physically, emotionally, socially, and even spiritually – are often better able to face the challenges of caregiving and experience the greatest rewards

Here are some suggested self-care activities, followed by a great tool from the Savvy Caregiver toolbox that can help:

  • Practice simple breath awareness for 10 minutes a day. You can do this to a relaxation CD or DVD, or to soft music you enjoy.
  • Try a mind-body practice like yoga, tai chi, meditation, and deep relaxation techniques.
    • Find a TV show or video that can help facilitate peaceful relaxation and gentle movement.
    • I like these Crystal Lee YouTube videos because they are good for a variety of fitness levels. Her hand drum meditation video provides nice peaceful relaxation with singing birds in the background.
  • Enjoy sitting quietly with a cup of tea and a good book.
  • Get Moving, physical activity such as going on a walk, or even 10 minutes of exercise a day. Maybe this is something you can do around your house or apartment.
  • Gardening, or bird watching. Another activity that can potentially be done from the inside or outside.
  • Make eating well and getting quality sleep priorities.
  • Remain socially connected. Find support through local caregiver groups. You may find there are some in your community holding virtual meetings.

Now imagine that your Fairy Godmother has granted you 5 wishes. I call it Fairy Godmother time. You will use this exercise to gather a list of ideas for what you would like to do – should the minutes of free time become available. The idea is that free time could appear at any moment and you need to be ready to take advantage-not waste precious minutes thinking about what you want to do. You will draw from this list when the opportunity presents itself. Once you have your list, place it on your refrigerator, or where you easily view it when the opportunity arises.

Your Fairy Godmother has granted you 5 wishes. 
You have been granted 5 different amounts of free time. You can choose to do whatever you want, but not chores or errands.

So here it is. Make your list. What will you do with:
1.    15 Minutes of Free Time
2.    30 Minutes of Free Time
3.    1 Hour of Free Time
4.    Half Day of Free time
5.    One whole day free of caregiving responsibilities!!!

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