By Dr. Robert M. Oliva and Karen Bromberg
While being a family caregiver can be a time of closeness with the loved one being cared for, it can also be a time of great stress, depleting the body of vital nutrients. In a report published on caregiver.org, an estimated 44 million of us are family caregivers.
Now, before I continue, let me just say that I don’t do all the things I’m going to suggest all the time. I don’t eat as well as I can. I don’t exercise the way I should and I don’t meditate daily. Who has the time? But that said, I do recognize the important of having a healthy diet, of exercising regularly and of having some meditative practice to help keep me grounded.
Proper diet, especially during stressful times, can make all the difference between navigating the tricky waters of caregiving and sinking. It is so easy to catch food on the fly then before we know it, we’ve put on twenty pounds, feel sluggish and are continually coming down with colds or even worse. Some suggestions:
- Keep a granola bar, a fruit or baggies filled with cut veggies in your briefcase or purse. These are quick, easy and healthy snack and will help stave off hunger until you sit down and have a meal.
- Pre-cook and freeze meals. That way you don’t have to spend time preparing after you’ve had a hectic caregiving day.
- Or, if you know of a restaurant or food store that has pre-made food, pick up something on your way home but make sure it’s low fat and healthy with lots of lean protein and veggies. It’s way too easy during times of stress to fall into comfort eating.
With all the responsibilities that family caregiving demands, often there is little time for the “extras” of life. A 2013 CBS news blog post indicated that less than 20 percent of Americans get the recommended amount of exercise per week. Regular exercise can reduce the symptoms of mild to moderate depression, increase self-esteem, hopefulness and the sense of being in control. Some ways to incorporate more exercise into your day are:
- Get off the elevator a floor or two before your floor and walk the rest of the way.
- Park your car a little ways away.
- Get out after dinner, if you can, and walk around the block. Walk around the block twice, if time permits.
- Take a moment during the day and even from a seated position, stretch. Stretching is a great way to re-energize the body.
And finally, meditation. Focusing the mind has the effect of calming the mind and relaxing the body. If you are familiar with meditation, great. If you have an affirmation that you particularly like, fabulous. Go for it!
If not, I would suggest closing the eyes and focusing on the breath. Nothing more than that need be done to experience the benefits. Make the inhalations and exhalations the most important things in your life then, when the mind wanders, (and it will) simply re-focus the mind on the breath again. Start off by doing this a couple of minutes per day and slowly over months increase it until you feel comfortable sitting for approximately twenty minutes. See how that goes.
It is so hard to care for ourselves as we care for another. Just achieving the fine balance, it’s something I continually struggle with. That’s why I’ve created this ebook. I wanted all of us to have quick and easy access this information.
Inside you will find information and resources on:
- Healthy eating so we don’t deplete our bodies of vital nutrients
- Exercise to maintain our mental and physical health
- Meditation to more easily navigate the ups and downs of our caregiving lives
Just click the image below to learn more and purchase your ebook.
“The advice given in this blogpost and the ebook is for educational purposes only and not meant as a substitute for the medical diagnosis or treatment of any physical or emotional condition or ailment.”