Caring for a loved one with an intellectual disability can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Although aiding a loved one is remarkably valuable, caregiving can also cause increased stress levels for even the most durable individuals. When you devote your time to caring for someone else, it is vital to take the necessary measures to ensure your own health, as well. When you neglect your own physical and emotional needs, you increase your chances of experiencing fatigue, developing health issues, and burning out completely.
To maintain your mental and physical well-being as a caregiver, review the following tips to reduce stress and ensure your mind and body are fully equipped to tackle the challenges of your role.
1. Get a Full Night’s Sleep
Getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep can be incredibly difficult for the average person, not to mention a full-time caregiver. However, not getting enough sleep can lead to an array of problems including high blood pressure, depressive symptoms, and cognitive impairment. Lack of sleep may also lead to feeling irritated and emotionally unstable. If you have problems getting enough sleep at night, consider adhering to a strict sleep regime and try get at least 30 minutes of physical activity five times a week.
2. Plan Ahead
At the beginning of each day, make a point to sit down and write out your goals. Try to determine three to five achievable tasks you can commit to concentrating on each day. Be sure to fully complete one item at a time and prioritize the order of your tasks depending on importance. When you focus on one task rather than trying to complete an assortment of duties at once, you can prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed, thereby decreasing stress levels.
3. Ask for Help and Take Breaks
Whatever your situation is, caregiving can make it hard to find time for breaks. Identify individuals you can rely on to help you when you are in desperate need of a break or a helping hand. During your break periods, be sure to spend time doing something for yourself, such as getting a manicure, massage, or going out with close friends. Engaging in fun and relaxing experiences will allow you return to your caregiving role in a positive and refreshed state.
4. Pursue Hobbies
While it might seem difficult to find time to pursue your own interests, engaging in activities you are passionate about can drastically improve your sense of well-being. Whatever you love to do, strive to make time for it. Even if you can only devote a small portion of time to your passion, pursuing what you love can decrease levels of anxiety and provide comfort in the aftermath of a challenging day or week.
5. Maintain Positivity
Make time at the end of every day to think of one good moment that made any challenges you experienced worth it. Even if the impact seems small, record these moments so you can look back on them during difficult periods to encourage yourself to endure. Making time to express thankfulness will enable you to cultivate a positive attitude and can reduce feelings of resentment toward the more challenging moments you encounter.