Winter can be tough on caregivers’ mental health. If you are a caregiver, these tips may be useful for avoiding the winter blues.
Winter can be a tough season for caregivers in colder climates, like here in Saratoga Springs. When the older person you are caring for has mobility issues, leaving home during snowy weather may be difficult or even dangerous. A caregiver can be left feeling isolated and lonely, especially if the senior has dementia or another disease that makes communication challenging.
As we head into a month known for cold, snowy days, these tips may help a family caregiver ward off a case of the winter blues.
Using Self-Care to Prevent the Caregiver Blues
- Eat a healthy diet:
When you are run down from juggling all the demands of caregiving and your regular responsibilities, it takes a toll on your physical and mental well-being. Adopting and sticking to a healthy diet is one step you can take to avoid the blues.
Eating well might be tough when your schedule is already packed. But it’s important to remember that a well-balanced diet gives you more energy. For caregivers who are feeling fatigued, it can provide the boost you need.
If you can’t find time for all the grocery shopping and meal preparations that come with eating well, consider supplementing easy-to-prepare meals like salads and sandwiches with home-delivered meal services. Companies like Sun Basket, Silver Cuisine, and Home Chef all make it easier to cook and serve healthy meals with minimal prep time.
- Get regular exercise:
Caregivers sometimes assume their busy lives provide enough exercise. While hectic days can feel like workouts, they may not contain enough physical activity. It’s essential to take even short breaks to exercise most days of the week. It can help you feel more energetic, promote better sleep, reduce stress, and improve your overall mental health.
Some caregivers find it easier to exercise twice a day for 10 or 15 minutes a session. The good news is you’ll reap the same health benefits as you would by working out for 30 continuous minutes. Resistance bands, walking, cycling, Pilates, swimming, yoga, and tai chi are all good forms of exercise to try.
- Enjoy a few laughs:
Most people have heard the saying that laughter is the best medicine. This is especially true when you are a caregiver. Find ways to enjoy a laugh or two every day. It will boost your spirits, and maybe even help you avoid developing the caregiver blues this winter.
Try looking at tough days and situations from a different perspective and finding humor where you can. Make a point of regularly watching sitcoms on television, taking in a romantic comedy at the movies with a loved one, or just having a phone conversation with a friend who makes you laugh.
- See your doctor regularly:
When your time and attention are focused on caring for someone you love, it’s easy to neglect your own health. Staying on track with physicals and routine health screenings is an important part of protecting your health—and your ability to continue caring for your senior loved one.
If it’s been a while since you saw the doctor, call to schedule an appointment today. During your visit, be sure to explain that you are a caregiver under considerable stress.
- Find outside help:
One final tip is to seek out and accept help with caregiving tasks. No one can do it all alone. Whether you utilize respite services from a home care agency or an assisted living community, you’ll get the break you need to help protect your own well-being any time of year.
Respite Care at The Wesley