In the chaos of caregiving, where every day can feel like a race and yet somehow you never cross the finish line, carving out moments for self-care might seem like a joke.

Yet, neglecting your well-being isn’t an option; it’s like trying to pour from an empty cup. Except, the cup has holes in it and pouring out only makes more holes. (I am going to stop that metaphor there, but you get the point. The more you ignore the “holes” in yourself, the things you need to make you whole, the less effective you are as a cup…or caregiver.) 

Here are five accessible self-care practices that even the busiest caregivers can integrate into their daily routines so that you can rejuvenate both mind and body, ensuring that you continue to give the best of yourself to those who depend on you, without losing yourself in the process.

Here are 5 simple self-care practices:

 

 1. Mindful Breathing Breaks

 Amidst the hustle, take a few minutes to engage in mindful breathing. Literally stop right now and ask, “Am I breathing?” Then take 5 intentional breaths, or more, and move on with your day. You can take five deep breaths first thing in the morning, during a break, or right before bed. Each breath should be deep and slow. Say to yourself, “I am breathing IN….I am breathing OUT.” This practice can center your thoughts, reduce stress levels, and increase your sense of being present. It’s a powerful yet straightforward method to anchor yourself amidst the chaos of your calendar.

 

2. Gratitude Journaling

 Start or end your day by jotting down three things you’re grateful for in a small notebook or digital app. You can even just open the Voice Memo on your phone and say, “Today I am grateful for…” and that is it!  This practice doesn’t have to be time-consuming; the key is consistency. Gratitude journaling shifts focus from caregiving challenges to the positive aspects of life, enhancing your mood and providing perspective. This small act of reflection can be profoundly uplifting, fostering a positive mindset that benefits both you and those you care for. Plus, you’ll have something you can go back and read, or listen to when it all just seems like too much!

 

3. Movement Snippets

Incorporate short bursts of physical activity into your day. This doesn’t mean setting aside time for a full workout—instead, think along the lines of stretching each time you stand up to go to the bathroom or get another glass of water (you are drinking water, right?) One thing I do is check the mail. I know our mail doesn’t come until the afternoon, but I walk to the end of our driveway a few times a day to “check the mail,” wave at the neighbors, or just get outside. (If you have time, you can take that walk around the block!)  These snippets of movement can increase your energy levels, improve your health, and combat the physical strain of caregiving. Listen to your body and select activities that match your physical abilities and preferences.

 

4. Connection Moments

Isolation can often creep into the caregiver’s life. Counteract this by ensuring you have moments of connection every day. This could be a quick check-in with a friend via text, a brief call to a family member, or participating in an online caregiver support group. Sharing experiences, even for a short period, can lend strength and a sense of community. Remember, seeking connection is not a weakness but a crucial part of maintaining your well-being.

 

5. Savor a Daily Pleasure

Identify one small thing each day that brings you joy or relaxation and make it non-negotiable. Perhaps it’s enjoying a cup of your favorite tea, reading a page of an inspirational book, or listening to a piece of calming music. Whatever this daily pleasure is, let it be a sacred time for you to recharge and find joy amidst your responsibilities. This act of self-kindness reminds you that you are worthy of care and joy, too.

 

Adopting these self-care practices might take effort initially, especially if you’re unaccustomed to prioritizing your well-being. Yet, with time, these small acts can become a profound transformation, not just for you but for those you care for. By nurturing yourself, you are better equipped to navigate caregiving and your life beyond it.

Remember, self-care is not selfish; it’s essential.

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IN JUST 180 days, learn to create a sustainable self-care practice so that you can be empowered in your life and in your caregiving journey. 

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