Take a nap
We can’t overstate the power of sleep. Chronic sleep loss can lead to a multitude of health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. Sleep deprivation is also safety hazard, accounting for more than 100,000 car accidents each year, and we all know how difficult it is to concentrate or problem-solve after a sleepless night. While many of us feel guilty taking a snooze in the middle of the day, studies show that a 15-20 minute nap can increase alertness, and a 30 minute nap can significantly enhance decision-making skills. So go ahead — take that nap.
Make a List
Asking for help is easier for some than others, but accepting help when offered should be one of the easier aspects of caregiving. One helpful tip is to keep a short “help list” in your wallet or even on your phone with manageable tasks such as “run an errand,” “cook a meal” or “walk the dog” so that you’re ready with an answer when someone asks “What can I do to help?”
Dance It Out
Dancing away stress works for the doctors on Gray’s Anatomy, and it can work for you too. Besides the umpteen physical benefits you’ll get from a quick dance break, listening to music has been proven to reduce stress and has been linked to increased productivity. Music can also relieve depression and improve your mood. And pull out that old guitar from the closet – a recent study shows that making music reduces burnout in nursing students.
Take Advantage of Technology
Whether it’s a mobile app that reminds you when to give your loved one her medication or a web-based security system that allows you keep an eye on her when you’re away, these techno tools can make your caregiving a little easier and help put your mind at ease.
Put Your Bench Players in the Game
Caregiving is more effective when it’s a team effort – whether it be family members, friends, neighbors, church members or paid staff. When you start to tire mentally and physically, it may be time to enlist the help of your fellow team members. Don’t consider it a failure to “tag them in,” when everyone works together, the entire team and especially your loved one wins.