As a caregiver to your loved one, taking care of your own needs can sometimes fall to the bottom of your list of priorities. But looking after your self-care is not only essential to your well-being, it even helps you to be the best caregiver you can be.
Self-care covers many areas of your life (e.g., social, creative, financial, etc.) that all work together to help you feel healthy and whole. In this post, we’ll look specifically at how to nurture your physical wellness as part of your holistic self-care habits.
Self-care is about purposefully giving back to yourself to enhance or maintain your own physical and emotional well-being. It can include activities to meet your basic needs or doing something special that you enjoy and makes you feel good.
Why is Physical Self-Care Important?
Taking care of your body addresses some of the most basic human needs. When you start to skip meals, neglect your sleep, or pick up unhealthy habits (like smoking), it can affect you in many ways.
Over time, you might develop long-term lifestyle-related chronic diseases, or even become more irritable and fatigued. Unmanaged stress can even lead to chronic physical and emotional exhaustion from caregiving, known as caregiver burnout.
Maintaining your physical well-being on a daily basis has immediate and long-term benefits. You’ll prevent many health issues, have a good foundation to care for yourself in other ways and be in physical shape to care for your loved one.
12 Ways to Practice Physical Self-Care
We reached out to FFDA followers, the clinical advisory board, volunteers, staff, friends, and family to build this list of physical self-care activities you can weave into your daily life. Committing to just one of these as a daily habit can make a big difference. What would you like to try?
If you can maintain a regular exercise routine, great! Here are simple ways to incorporate movement into your daily schedule for when life gets a little busy.
- Standing up to stretch every hour throughout the day
- Take a quick walk around your neighborhood or walk in place to get your heart rate up
- Actively moderate your posture (are you sitting and standing in a way that helps your body?)
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
2. Balanced Meals and Hydration
When things get busy or if we’re dealing with a lot of stress, we can become less mindful of what we’re eating. We sometimes eat too much or don’t eat at all to cope with emotional problems. Here are some ways to fuel your body with care:
- Make a plan to drink enough water throughout the day and follow-through
- Choose water as the drink for a meal instead of juice or soda
- Take time to plan, prepare, and eat balanced meals
- Be mindful when you make food choices: something convenient might not have a good impact on your health.
3. Get Enough Rest
As a busy caregiver, recharging your batteries is necessary for feeling energized and ready for your day. Here are some ideas for ensuring your body gets the rest that it needs:
- Move your bedtime earlier – try to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night
- Take a short nap if you’re feeling tired in the middle of the day
- Take a break from your phone or TV 30 minutes before you go to bed to allow yourself (and your brain) time to wind down
- Set boundaries (e.g., do not work during time off, or allow others to assist you with caregiving when needed).
Your Body Deserves the Care it Needs
You deserve to care for yourself, just like you care for your loved one. Maintaining your physical wellness is one of the most fundamental ways to start your self-care plan. Many helpful activities are simple and can be easily incorporated into your daily life. Start with something small today and build up your self-care habits from there.
- Got stress? Answer 10 questions and we’ll match you with self-care strategies based on your level of stress.
- Start your day with a relaxing, free 45-minute yoga and movement session with Gloria Tan!
- There’s nothing wrong with some boring self-care! Read more here.