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Yoga Journal magazine February 2012

5 Ways to Care for the Caregiver (You)

Yoga Journal magazine February 2012

Yoga Journal Feb. 2012

If you’re caring for a loved one–be it a parent or a newborn–here are some practical ways to keep yourself as healthy and stress-free as possible.

I work full-time. I volunteer. I’m giving extra love to a 15-year-old dog. And Mom is still in rehab following her stroke. I’m exhausted, and I don’t even have kids. I don’t know how you parents do it sometimes!

I see Mom every evening after work and on the weekends. I know I need to stay upbeat and healthy as I continue to care for her on her road to recovery. I’m quickly learning that it’s all too easy to let healthy habits break during times like this. I need to remind myself that my health is important along the way, too–especially when I’m simultaneously caring for the health of someone else.

Caregivers sometimes let themselves go, focusing more on those around them who seem to need it more. I’m learning along this journey that taking that route is not the best way to do things. If you’re caring for someone–from a new baby to a parent following a big health event–here are some things you can do to keep yourself on top of it all:

  1. Get enough sleep. Easier said than done, right? But it’s so important to feel rested, rejuvenated and strong. A good night’s sleep–every night–will help you feel that way.
  2. Eat a balanced diet. It can be easy to hit the drive-thru and just grab a burger on the way home from the hospital each night, but I’m trying instead to plan dinners a full week ahead of time and do my shopping so I have no excuses.
  3. Stay hydrated. If you opened me up and looked inside me right now, you’d find diet soda and coffee running through my veins. Not good. I’m making a big effort to drink more water each day. It’s hard, but I know my body will thank me for it.
  4. Let someone care for you. Accept others’ offers to help. Let coworkers cook a meal for you. Let that sweet neighbor do a load of laundry. Let the kids across the street walk the dog around the block. I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m not Superwoman. I’m thankful to have a support system around me while I serve as part of Mom’s support system.
  5. Keep stress under control. Take a few minutes and get away once every couple weeks. A trip to the mall for a new pair of shoes. A massage. A pedicure. I’m finding that it’s quite reenergizing to be pampered a bit.

To help with that last tip, I’ve even been considering meditation. Who knew there were so many types of meditation? Yoga Journal magazine┬ácertainly did, and in their February issue, they break down each type to help readers choose the best one for them. From visualization to using mantras to meditating while you walk, the writer explains what each type does best and for whom it might be best suited. It sounds like I may need to try the walking meditation. I don’t have time to sit down these days!