Every day, our field service team members act as caregivers as they help families cope with traumatic events like a big move or a death in the family. Our team has learned how to prevent caregiver burnout, and they take steps to practice self-care before, during, and after a big job to maintain balance in their lives. Here are seven strategies our field team members rely on.
1. Share Quality Time
Relationships are a massive influence on your health. According to the Edelman Health Barometer 2011 global survey, 43% of people report that family and friends influence their lifestyle, and 36% say family and friends influence their nutrition.
If you're not sure how to start regular memory-making traditions with your family, try eating meals together at the dinner table without distractions, doing community service projects together, going on trips, or group exercise.
2. Work It Out
We all know from experience that pent-up mental energy can cause restlessness, sleeplessness, stress, and other negative effects on both physical and mental health. Cardiovascular exercises like jogging or aerobics are proven ways to reduce anxiety and improve sleep because they release positive neurotransmitters called endorphins that calm and focus your brain. You don't have to train for a marathon to get quality exercise. Ask your physician for a workout that is best for you, like cycling or a dance class, and incorporate it into your weekly routine.
3. Play a Game
Playing games isn’t just for TV families on Friday nights. Board games can potentially lower the risk of dementia, and in moderation, video games have been shown to improve problem-solving skills and increase spatial attention. Your mind is too occupied with concentrating on the game itself to focus on stress. There are plenty of options for game time. Calming mental games can be as simple as Go Fish, Spit, or Solitaire. You can practice physical games like soccer or basketball alone or with others.
4. Listen to Music
Studies indicate that music is a natural stress reliever, and can help those suffering from sleeping impairments and depression. Recent studies have also suggested that when patients with early dementia regularly listen to music, it improves memory retention and delays the progression of the disease. Incorporating music into your daily commute, during a workout, or while cooking dinner can help you decompress after a long day of serving others.
5. Take a Deep Breath
Deep breathing is a form of mindful meditation that has been proven to reduce stress levels. It controls anxiety, improves abdominal and intestinal muscles, and promotes blood flow.Try some neck rolls by placing your chin towards the chest area, then slowly inhale as you bring your head up toward the ceiling. Hold your breath for a few moments, then exhale as you bring your chin back toward your chest.
6. Laugh a Lot
Laughing decreases the production of cortisol, a stress hormone released automatically during difficult times in your life, particularly grief. When you have too much cortisol in your system, it can negatively affect your memory, increase blood pressure, put you at a higher risk for depression, among other health problems.To squeeze in some giggles, try making time to watch a funny video online, or listen to a comedy show on the radio or on a podcast. Or, to avoid draining screen time, share a funny story from the week with your friends and family.
7. Stay Hydrated
Though coffee and other caffeinated drinks give you a temporary boost, they can cause dehydration. Dehydration can cause a host of physical problems, including headaches, dry mouth, muscle cramps, development of kidney complications, and many other severe problems. Drinking water helps prevent potential health concerns.
When it comes to both physical and mental health, it's always better to think about the long-term effects instead of the short-term boost. Healthy choices, and a little extra laugh or music every day, keep our team bringing compassionate caregiver energy to every project we take on.