Remember that old love song from the 60’s. Taking care of yourself for the one you love may be just the motivation you need to begin a healthier you.
Care giving for a loved one can be one of life’s most draining experiences: affecting mind, body and soul. To counter this, set personal health goals. For example, set a goal to find time to be physically active on most days of the week, or set a goal for getting a good night’s sleep. It’s also crucial to eat a healthy diet. When caregivers understand that, there can be a tremendous sense of relief that allows them to set more realistic goals. Remember these keys to keep depression at bay:
Maintain a life outside of care giving. Stay connected to friends. Don’t give up your daily routines. Maintain your health. Get regular check-ups, eat a balanced diet, and exercise. Exercise. It un-kinks tense muscles, revs up the cardiovascular system, and floods the brain with feel-good chemicals, such as endorphins. Use simple de-stressing techniques. Deep breathing, muscle relaxation, meditation, and self-massage. And laugh. “People don’t think of humor as a way to cope with stress, but they should”. Join a support group. In support groups, you validate your role as caregiver, voice your fears, vent your frustrations, and learn coping strategies and techniques.
“Exercise is an antidote to aging,” says Barry A. Franklin, PhD, director of the cardiac rehabilitation and exercise labs at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, MI. A well-rounded routine, as part of a healthy lifestyle, may help you avoid things like falls, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Experts say many of the conditions people think are due to getting older have more to do with not moving enough.
At any age, these are the types of exercise you want to get:
Aerobic: good for your heart and lungs. It’s also good for your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, sleep, and memory. What to do: You can walk briskly, walk in the water, or do any other activity that gets your heart rate up.
Strength training: good for your muscles and bones. It’s the principle of “use it or lose it.” What to do: Start with 2-pound hand weights or resistance stretch bands.
Flexibility and balance: helps prevent falls by stretching your muscles and keep them from stiffening up. What to do: Yoga and tai chi are good for both. You can also learn balance exercises in senior fitness classes or from a personal trainer.
Whatever you do, start at a medium pace, where you move a little bit but can still hold a conversation. Aim for 30 minutes a day and build up to that, even if you start with just 5 minutes at a time.
We have everything you need right here at Kirby Pines. Check out the Oasis for exercise equipment or join one of our exercise classes. Setting healthy goals for yourself can be “Dedicated to the ones you love.”