Content provided by UCHealth.
Whether you’re chasing a 2-year-old, brainstorming with a teen for college, or helping an aging parent schedule a doctor’s appointment, if you’re a caregiver, you likely spend a lot of time helping others. Sometimes there is little time to take care of yourself.
This challenge has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think self-sufficiency has fallen a bit more by the wayside this year and a lot of people are suffering from stress or caregiver fatigue,” said Dr. Michelle Jimerson, a family doctor and medical staff member at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. “But it’s like an airplane oxygen mask – you have to put your oxygen mask on first before you can help anyone else. It can be selfish to focus on yourself when all these other people need help, but if you don’t take care of yourself it won’t help anyone. “
As a working mom with two children, Jimerson understands that taking the time to take care of yourself can be challenging. She outlines her self-care principles below.
Keep an eye on your sanity
“First and foremost, for self-care, we talk about mental health,” said Jimerson. “It can look different for everyone. Lack of sleep can be the first problem someone notices, or family members can be more irritable or quick-tempered with children. “
While the pandemic has blanketed the stress, Jimerson is reminding patients to focus on what is under their control.
“We want to ask, ‘What can we control?'” Said Jimerson. “There are many things that are beyond our control. We cannot control whether our children are in school or at home to school, we cannot control that we have to work from home, we cannot control this disease. But we can be sure and follow the guidelines. “
Try creating a new routine that will work for you and your loved ones, and remember to build for yourself in time. Prioritize sleep and activities like meditation to give your brain time to rest.
“For some people it sits quietly and does an official meditation, but for others it has a quiet time or walks alone,” Jimerson said.
Don’t hesitate to see your doctor if you are struggling with anxiety, stress, or depression. He or she can guide you through the options to resolve these issues.
Support good physical health
Small steps for health can make a difference; For example, take quick walks outside, drink plenty of water, and include healthy foods – whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes – in your diet.
While people often ask if supplements like vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc are helpful, Jimerson prefers to focus on promoting a healthy lifestyle.
“Supplements probably won’t hurt, but if you focus on sleep, good nutrition, and less stress, it will be better for your immune system than just taking a few extra vitamins,” said Jimerson.
And remember to keep your alcohol consumption in check.
“We’ve seen people turn to alcohol a little more, be it because of boredom or stress relief,” Jimerson said. “Know how much you drink and why.”
Promote positive mental attitudes
While there is no doubt that the pandemic has had a number of negative effects, Jimerson points out that you can still find ways to look for the silver lining. Perhaps the pandemic has given you time to start a new hobby or connect with family members in new ways.
“We talk a lot about ‘PMA’ or positive mental attitudes – how can we recreate what is happening,” said Jimerson. “The world is what it is, but how you think about it and how you approach it can make a huge difference in how you experience life.”