Caregivers: Top 10 Quick Ways to Slow Down and Take Care of Yourself

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You’ve heard it before, if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else. 

What does that mean exactly?  If you tend to put others’ needs before your own and you’re running around for everyone else feeling overwhelmed and anxious, who is taking care of you? If the answer is no one,  you’re at risk for burning out. 

While most caregivers will likely have periods when it really is necessary to put yourself on the back burner for a minute, weaving in some quick self-care throughout the day or taking advantage of the occasional hour for yourself can help you sustain your caregiving role without feeling resentful. That doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune taking a spa day.

Here are 10 ways to nurture yourself in a hurry - each takes only a few minutes.

  1. Make yourself a healthy snack and leave it in the fridge or your bag for when you need to grab something on the run.
  2. Put on something in the morning that makes you feel good about yourself – a favorite pair of shoes, a cute top or maybe a little makeup. Wearing yoga pants or looking sloppy has an impact on your mood.
  3. Be mindful when you’re driving by taking a new route and paying attention to your surroundings.  Look for 5 new things you haven’t noticed before.
  4. In Alpharetta and the rest of the state of Georgia we have a new hands free law.  Instead of trying to figure out how to voice text or call while you’re in and out of your car running errands, put on some music you like, crank it up and sing (Yes! Out loud!)
  5. Pick up a trial size new hand lotion, face mask or scrub while you’re running through Walmart or Target, then try it before bed or in the middle of the day if you’re feeling indulgent!
  6. Light a candle in your favorite scent and breathe deeply for 1 minute.
  7. Hug your favorite _______ (spouse, partner, child, dog, etc.)  Take a minute to really give a good hug and them and show them you’re happy to see them.
  8. If you’re having to make a lot of calls and find yourself on hold a lot, keep a mindful coloring book near you and some colored pencils.  Instead of being irritated that you’re on hold again, spend a few minutes coloring, it’ll make the time go by more quickly. (If coloring isn’t your thing, substitute a puzzle, doodling – you get the point)
  9. Every time you get a drink of water or use the bathroom, take 5 seconds to check in with yourself. Do you need to breathe deeply, eat, drink, or pee?  If so, tend to that!
  10. Put something on the calendar to look forward to – it can be personal, professional, spiritual, or social as long as it is something that gets you excited when you think about it.

Doing at least one of these things each day can help ground and balance you, lower your stress, and help you think more clearly. 

Then when you get a free hour (or day) you’re not in self-rescue mode and can really slow down and spend the time doing something you enjoy! Not sure if you need to slow down?  Check out my blog post Caregivers: Do you need to slow down?

For more ways to care for the caregiver, contact me for a free 15 min consultation at 678-827-2111.

 

 

Karen Whitehead, MS. LCSW

Karen Whitehead, MS, LCSW specializes in helping overwhelmed and anxious adults and caregivers with stress, cancer or chronic illness reduce anxiety, sleep better, and enjoy life. Serving Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Cumming, Dunwoody and greater Atlanta.