Caregiver Resolutions for Self-Care

Sharon and Sean

Research shows that it takes 30 days to establish a new habit and that the most successful habit changes will be implemented via small, measurable steps. Instead of trying to change everything today, pick one thing to focus on each month and slowly build up new habits.

We’ve suggested some “30-Day Habits” below for PH caregivers — pick the ones you think will work best for you and stick with them for the full month.

Don’t Let the Cold Get You Down. The cold winter months may be keeping you indoors, but you can still connect with friends and family. Having a strong social support system is key to balancing healthy habits for yourself while also caring for your loved one. Find a way to connect with family or friends each day, whether you meet for coffee or talk on the phone. You can also meet new friends! Check out PHA’s opportunities for caregivers to connect

Expand Your Horizons. Try something new! Whether it’s a new recipe, a new skill or finally doing something you’ve always dreamed about but haven’t gotten around to making happen, this is the month to expand your horizons! Spend some time each day either doing or learning something new, or putting in time towards making something new happen that you’re excited about.

Express Yourself. Journaling offers time to reflect and give voice to your emotions and frustrations — whether you are writing, photographing, scrapbooking or expressing yourself through other mediums. If you’re not sure what your preferred form of expression is, experiment until you find it. Try to journal every day this month.

Get a Breath of Fresh Air. April showers bring May flowers. Get out for a 20-minute walk every day this month. Just 20 minutes of outdoor exercise a day yields a wide array of health benefits, both physical and mental.

Eat Right. Healthy eating is easy when so much produce is in season. Make a resolution to eat healthier. Some ideas: Add vegetables to each meal, go meatless for at least one meal a day, or cut back on one unhealthy indulgence you regularly eat.

Recognize Your Accomplishments. In the hectic day-to-day, it’s easy to feel like you aren’t doing enough. Take a few minutes each day this month to write down five things you accomplished — whether it was running an errand, keeping your temper during a difficult conversation, or making someone smile. Pat yourself on the back for the little things you do each day!

Laugh. Laughter is good for the soul. Each day this month find something that makes you laugh.

Ask For and Accept Help. Is there one thing you could get help with that would decrease your stress? Whether it’s taking out the trash, buying groceries or driving your loved one to meetings, use this month to practice asking for and accepting help.

Practice Gratitude. Research shows that gratitude has benefits for our mood and health. Choose one thing to be grateful for each day this month.

Prioritize Sleep. It can be hard to fit everything in. Getting enough sleep at night will keep you feeling more energized and calm. Schedule in enough sleep each night. The actual hours of sleep that an adult needs vary from person to person, so listen to your body.

This article first appeared in Pathlight Winter and Spring 2014.