Caregivers can often overlook their own lives as they spend a majority of their time caring about and for others, but taking care of one’s health is a key part of staying in optimal condition and in turn, makes for a better caregiver. When you are happy and healthy, you can show up to your job better, using that energy to offer the very best help and support.
Exhaustion and fatigue from long days and long hours play a huge role in the decision to exercise or not. Working out or being active can seem like the least desirable thing to do at the end of a hard shift, but it it plays a huge role in your well-being and protects your overall quality of life and health.
Here are a few important reasons why caregivers should exercise:
Increased Endurance and Stamina
By working the cardiovascular and muscular systems, stamina is increased, which can aid in better management of the demanding role.
Happy Is Healthy
Exercise and physical activity releases endorphins, which are our “happy”, feel-good hormones. These same hormones boost our overall mood, aid in regulating appetite, and improve the immune system.
Much like the release of happy hormones, physical activity also decreases our stress hormones. Stress is a day-to-day experience of caregivers, this is a healthy management tool for decreasing and better handling the stressful experiences.
Although exercise can sometimes produce sore muscles, it does so by strengthening them. When we strengthen and condition our muscles, we find that any day-to-day activity that used to cause us muscle pain significantly decreases.
Caregivers are busy. Here are a few tips to stay physically active while managing time efficiently:
At the start of the day, if you can carve out at least 30 minutes to move the body before working, you will set the tone for the rest of the day and your exercise will be out of the way. Waiting until the end of the day can leave a lot of room for avoidance when we’re tired, exhausted, or burned out from a long shift or day’s work.
Smaller Bouts of Time
Traditional schedules are few and far between in a job role like caregiving, but scheduling out 10 or 15 minute bouts throughout the day to walk, jog, do yoga, or move in whatever way you can will still give you the benefits that you receive from exercise. Doing three bouts of 10 minutes, or two bouts of 15 minutes will still be as effective as a 30 minutes session. Do what works best for you.
Incorporate Into Your Day
Seniors benefit from physical activity, too. We all do. Going for a walk, doing chair yoga, or practicing breathing exercises with your residents can be a great way to not only give care to them, but also to yourself.
Caregiving To Yourself
Caregiving is a very demanding, yet rewarding role. You spend your time giving to others, caring for them, ensuring they're living the highest quality of life. Remembering to spend sufficient time on yourself, giving yourself that same love and care that you give to others, can significantly impact your mental, emotional and physical health. Clear your head space with silence or guided meditation. This doesn't have to be any more than 5 minutes for benefit. Journaling about your day to express your thoughts and feelings can also be a powerful way to reconnect with yourself.
Have any other ideas? Let us know what you think in the comments!