Monika Barton is a freelance content writer and researcher – she shares with us some suggestions about how Carers can create some time for themselves during these unprecedented times and take time to notice and appreciate themselves and those around them.
We are living in unprecedented times. As many of us experience isolation due to lockdown measures and social distancing rules, the need to look after our mental and emotional health has never been more important.
For those with caregiving responsibilities, finding ‘me time’ is a real challenge. It can feel selfish or a luxury that is quickly side-lined over other priorities. But research shows the combination of emotional strain and physical demands of caregiving, makes caregivers more vulnerable to health problems.
There are so many benefits to practising self-care, even if it’s only a few minutes a day, such as reduced stress levels, lowered blood pressure, and improved well-being.
Here are five simple self-care tips you can do at home:
How often do you pay attention to your breathing? Probably rarely. But, focusing your mind on your breath can be one of the most powerful tools in combating stress.
Here’s how to do it.
Put one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. Take a gentle deep breath. As you do, feel your stomach rise, and then breath out slowly and steadily.
You can do this at any time of the day. This is a quick, easy exercise to do whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, emotional or tired. It will help you feel calmer and more grounded.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to meditate for hours to enjoy its benefits. Practicing meditation for as little as 2 or 3 minutes a day can have an impact on your well-being.
To start, find a quiet space. You sit, stand or lie down, just make sure you feel comfortable. When you’re ready, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Next focus your mind on your body and how it feels. Is it heavy? Is there tension? Let thoughts come and go. Slowly bring your mind back to the room, breath in and out, and open your eyes.
Many people enjoy using guided mediation to help them. There are lots of free apps and videos viable on YouTube. Check out a few here: https://www.mindful.org/free-mindfulness-apps-worthy-of-your-attention/
3. Keep a gratitude journal
Evidence shows feeling grateful can increase your sense of wellbeing. From improving the quality of your sleep to helping you feel more positive and raising your self-esteem, feeling grateful is a simple but effective way to feel better.
Every morning, take a minute to write down a list of all the things you are grateful for in your life. This can include anything you want as there’s no right or wrong.
4. Take a break from social media
Being plugged in the whole time can lead to serious information overload and stress. It’s really healthy and energising to log-off and take time for yourself to relax or do something just for you. Whether it’s reading a book, doing a crossword, listening to music or pottering in the garden. Screen-free time will help you re-connect with yourself and your surroundings.
5. Introduce good habits
Poor sleep patterns and unhealthy diets add extra stress on our minds and bodies. So, maintaining positive habits while stuck at home is even more important. Easier said than done. Focus on making small changes. For instance, introduce a set bedtime and wake-up routine.
Hydration is vital for our brains, our muscles and our bodies. Drink water every day. In addition, limit fatty foods with little nutritional value. Try to eat more fruit or vegetables. Don’t forget to limit your caffeine and alcohol intake as these can disrupt sleep and lead to anxiety.
Remember, take each day as it comes. Don’t put pressure on yourself to try to do everything every day. Instead, make your self-care practice part of your daily routine so you can start to feel the benefits.
Here is a list of resources:
Importance of self-care
Guided Meditations and Mindfulness
Tips to keep a gratitude journal
Introduce positive habits
How to eat well