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If you’re living with arthritis, back pain or other types of joint pain, maintaining wellness often takes a back seat when giving care to others. Whether you’re a parent caring for a child, or an adult caring for another loved one, keeping yourself well is paramount. These will help you take a moment to evaluate your current routines and patterns to prioritize your wellness.
Most often overlooked are the psychological needs of caregivers. Taking care of another person isn’t just time-consuming. Every situation is unique, so there’s no one-size-fits-all guide to self-care for caregivers; however, creating and maintaining healthy boundaries is essential.
1. Leverage your circle
Keeping sane means not getting disconnected from other people Caregiving can be a lonely business, so take every opportunity to fill your social cup, even if that means getting someone to bring you a cup of coffee so that you can chat with them for a few minutes. If you’re in a position where you’re isolated, check out online resources, use social media and reach out to people via telephone. It may also be that in addition to being a caregiver, you’re also the chief communicator between your loved one and the rest of the family. This is likely a task you could delegate to someone else. You’re not in this alone.
2. Take little breaks
Sometimes, taking care of someone means putting your attention on them.
After a while, it can feel like you don’t have any energy to spare for your life. Whether it’s five to ten minutes in the car before you go in to begin your day, schedule some blank spots in your day where you can relax, breathe and connect with yourself. If you have other family members or friends who are willing to help, don’t be afraid to let them. Take some time for you.
3. Keep your finances out of it
If you’re helping a family member, chances are, you’ve spent some of your own money giving care. To the degree that it’s feasible for you, let the person be responsible for their own financial obligations. Too often, caregivers give more than they probably need to, and this leads to financial strain. This can cause other problems like unreasonable expectations and resentments. These will lead you to burn out quickly!
The toll that caregiving for others takes is most quickly felt in the body, especially if you’re living with a pain-causing condition.
1. If it’s not safe, don’t do it
Some tasks that caregivers do requires a lot of physical strength. At hospitals and care facilities, employees are trained to safely perform tasks that require heavy lifting. If you need to, ask for help from another family member or friend or consider hiring some kind of personal support worker to do tasks that might put your health at risk. Often, caregivers adopt a “suck it up and get it done” attitude. This can lead to injury. Be safe.
2. Take care of your body
If you’re giving care to someone else, start the day right by taking care of yourself. This means getting enough rest, eating a nutritious diet and getting enough exercise to keep you fit enough to provide care safely. If heavy lifting is one of your duties, always stretch before strenuous activity. Hatha yoga is an ideal stretching practice that can help build strength and improve flexibility.
3. Know your limits
Many caregivers encounter burn out. Caregiving is a marathon, not a sprint. You may need to implement new self-care routines, the first of which is knowing when you’re about to hit the wall. If you’re living with chronic pain yourself, prioritize taking care of your primary condition. Keep all your doctor’s appointments, and be transparent in your communications with your doctor. You may also want to consider other therapies like massage, pain relieving soaks and other relaxing ways to approach self-care. You are, after all, only human, and your body needs its TLC.
If you need care for your condition, finding the right provider can be a challenge. At Back Pain Centers of America (BPC), our mission is to help you find the best care available. Call us today at 1.844.201.1308 so that we can match you with an expert specialist who can provide the care you deserve.