July not only falls right in the middle of vacation season, but it also marks Self-care Month. It’s the perfect time to take a step back and focus on taking care of yourself. This is especially important if you’re one of the millions of “sandwich generation” Americans who are tasked with not only caring for their children but their parents as well.
Like taxes, stress is an inevitability of life. But it’s critical for family caregivers to avoid full-scale burnout. Some warning signs that you might be putting too much strain on yourself include:
- You constantly feel under pressure.
- You have a short fuse.
- You can’t focus.
- Your performance at work is slipping.
- You are having trouble sleeping.
- Your eating patterns are disrupted, either eating too much or not enough.
- You are drinking more alcohol.
- You are experiencing conflicts with your family, siblings or partner.
- You are frustrated with the amount of time caregiving takes.
In order to remedy burnout symptoms and ensure that you and your loved ones can experience the best version of yourself, SYNERGY HomeCare, a leading in-home care provider, suggests three ways family caregivers can focus on their self care.
1. Compartmentalize and Reorganize
Life shouldn’t be one long 24/7 shift. Don’t get hung up on finding the perfect work-life balance; instead, find work-life harmony. Set some benchmarks that you want to meet, and if you’re on pace, there’s no shame in stepping back and finding some time to do the things that you enjoy.
Work-life harmony may sound easier said than done, especially for people who feel like they’re never doing enough. To keep yourself from feeling like you need to keep doing more, make a physical schedule for your daily activities. Block out specific times just dedicated to yourself, and you’ll find it’s much easier to let yourself take breaks.
2. Unplug and Unwind
When spending this time on yourself, do your best to completely unplug from stressors related to work or family. The things you need to do will still be there after you get your me-time, so spend that time enjoying the little things.
Some activities that help to take your mind off the stressors of life could be workouts, quick naps or even playing games. Exercise is proven to be especially beneficial to mental health as it’s an easy way to force yourself to focus on the task at hand, rather than thinking about being a caregiver.
3. Delegate and Decompress
A great resource for alleviating stress is the network around you. Whether it be friends, family or even professional services, you have plenty of options for delegating some of your responsibilities. Very often, we put the weight of the world on our shoulders because we feel that it’s up to us to do things the right way. However, a little outside help or perspective can go a long way. Even divvying up simple at-home tasks amongst your children can simplify your schedule.
There is also the option of relying on an in-home care service to do the job for you. These services have extremely flexible schedules that can fit exactly what you may need so you don’t need to run all over the place to keep an eye on mom and dad AND your children.
As much as we want to handle everything ourselves, it’s critical that we realize how important our own wants and needs are. Now is the perfect time to do this and take the mental vacation that we all need and deserve.
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