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  • Writer's pictureCassandra Martin-Himmons

6 Ways For Family Caregivers To Make Self-Care A Priority in 2024

When was the last time your self-care was a priority in your life?

 

If you can’t remember, then this post is for you! 😊 For many people, self-care is looked at as an optional thing you do only when you have time or just occasionally as a way to pamper yourself.

 

But really, it shouldn’t be this way. Self-care should be as big of a priority as anything else in your life. Because self-care is an important way of helping you manage your stress before your stress manages you. Read on for 6 ways you can make it more of a priority even if you’re having a busy day.


Understand What Self-Care Is



Cassandra drinking tea out of a white mug.


Self-care means taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. It's about recognizing your needs and taking steps to meet those needs.

 

So self-care can be anything from taking a walk, reading a book, practicing mindfulness, engaging in a creative pursuit, drinking a cup of tea, going on vacation or even taking a nap. The first step to making self-care a priority is understanding what it means to you and which activities give you joy and help you relax.

 

 

Schedule Self-Care Time




 

When it comes to self-care, I always tell my clients, if you don’t schedule it, it’s probably not going to happen. Just like any other important activity or appointment in your life, scheduling is key. It could be 30 minutes each day or a few hours each week. Make an appointment with yourself and stick to it. You’re worth it.

 

 

Create a Self-Care Routine

 

Having a routine makes self-care so much easier. That’s because routines turn into habits. So, make self-care a habit. You can do this by creating a morning or evening routine.

 

In the morning you could meditate, exercise, or write in a journal. In the evening you could read a book or have a warm bath. Find what works best for you and make it a routine to turn self-care into a habit.

 

 

Listen to Your Body

 

Your body will tell you what it needs. If you're feeling tired, and you’re able to, take a break. If you're feeling stressed, do something that relaxes you. Listening to your body and responding to its needs is a key part of self-care.

 

 

Practice Mindfulness

 

Mindfulness is a powerful self-care tool for anyone, but especially you as a family caregiver. Mindfulness involves being fully present in the moment, which can help you better understand your needs. Take a few minutes each day to sit quietly, focus on your breath, and pay attention to your thoughts and feelings.

 

Here’s a quick mindfulness exercise that you can try. You’ll need a raisin or some other food.

 

  • You are going to use all of your senses to observe this raisin as if you’ve never seen one before.

  • Turn it around with your fingers and notice its color. Notice the folds and where the surface reflects light.

  • Close your eyes and feel the texture of the raisin.

  • Then smell the raisin and notice its scent and how it makes you feel.

  • Finally, pop the raisin into your mouth.  Before you bite into it, how does the raisin feel sitting on your tongue? Now, bite into the raisin.  Notice the sensations of taste and texture in your mouth and how these may change over time, moment by moment. Also pay attention to any changes in the raisin itself as you finish chewing and swallow.

 

This exercise allows you to easily experience the focus that mindfulness brings.

 

 

Say No When Needed

 




Part of self-care is setting boundaries. No is a complete sentence. Don’t be afraid to say no when you need to. This could be turning down an extra project at work, or saying no to a social event when you're feeling drained. Saying no can be hard, but it's necessary to protect your well-being.

 

 

Be Kind to Yourself

 

Finally, be kind to yourself and give yourself grace. Self-care is not about being perfect. It's about taking care of yourself in the best way you can. If you miss a day of exercise or eat an unhealthy meal, don't beat yourself up. Instead, acknowledge it and move on.


Now that we’ve looked at 6 ways that you can prioritize your self-care, let’s look at what you can do to infuse self-care into even the busiest of days.


1. Start with a Healthy Breakfast

 


Bowl of oatmeal with almonds and blueberries


Even when you're rushing out the door, it's important to make time for a healthy breakfast. It's the fuel your body needs to get started in the morning. Try to include proteins, fruits, and whole grains. A smoothie with Greek yogurt and fruits, boiled eggs, or a slice of whole-grain toast with avocado, can be quick options.


2. Practice Mindful Moments

 

Just because your day is packed doesn't mean you can't find moments to practice your mindfulness. Take a few minutes to focus on your breathing or take in your surroundings both can help reduce stress and bring a sense of calm. Try doing this during your commute, or between meetings.

 

 

3. Stay Hydrated

 


Glass of water with a turquoise straw in it. The water is in front of a blue and white tiled wall.


Hydration is a simple way to care for yourself, so simple that it’s often overlooked as a form of self-care. But it's super important, especially on busy days. Staying hydrated helps your body function properly and keeps you feeling good. Keep a bottle of water with you and sip regularly. If you're too busy to remember, there are apps that can remind you to drink water or you can set an alarm on your phone.

 

 

4. Move Your Body

 

Physical activity is a crucial part of self-care. On busy days, it might seem impossible to squeeze in a workout. However, you can find small ways to stay active throughout the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, do a few stretches during a break, or take a short walk around the block.

 

 

5. Take Short Breaks

 

When you're swamped with tasks, it might feel like you can't afford to take breaks. However, studies show that taking short breaks can actually increase productivity and reduce stress. Even a five-minute break to stretch, look away from your computer or take a few deep breaths can be beneficial.

 

 

6. Wind Down Before Bed

 

Regardless of how busy your day has been, it’s important to try to make time for yourself before bed. This can help you unwind and signal to your body that it's time to sleep. This might be reading a book, listening to calm music, or doing a quick skincare routine.

 

Follow these simple tips and you will be practicing self-care every day, no matter how busy you get. It's all a matter of Making Time.

 

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Let’s talk.  How are you going to make self-care a priority in your life? Let me know in the comments section. 

 

Cassandra in a floral jacket sitting in front of a white brick wall.

Cassandra Martin-Himmons, LMSW is a stress management coach and content creator who believes in empowering her clients to help them manage their stress and increase their self-care. In her spare time she enjoys papercrafting, hand embroidery and travel. Connect with her on Instagram or YouTube

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