A reminder for self-care is a reminder for everyone to make sure that they are looking out for their own wellbeing, and it was also the topic of our last caregiver support group.
What Is Self-Care?
Self-care is the practice of taking actions or steps to protect, preserve, and improve one’s own health in the areas of:
- Physical health
- Mental health
- Emotional health
- Social health
- Personal health
- Financial health
- Environmental health
Don’t overthink it!
Why Is Self-Care Important?
Self-care is important because “[it] is not a matter of selfishness or unselfishness. It’s a matter of encouraging your own vitality and replenishing your own resources” (The Caregiver’s Book: Caring for Another; Caring for Yourself, By James E. Miller, 2008).
For caregivers, caregiving for your companion animal can have an impact on your physical health, emotional and mental health, social supports, and many more aspects of your life. Working to take care of yourself in these different areas is essential to keeping yourself healthy so that you are at your best to offer the best care for your companion animal.
- Caregivers are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and social isolation.
- Research shows that 40%-70% of caregivers live with depressive symptoms, and about half meet criteria for severe depression according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
- Caregivers are more likely to have higher levels of stress hormones that can lead to chronic illness.
- Caregivers also are more likely to get fewer hours of restful sleep which can also lead to chronic illnesses, fatigue, and cognitive deficits.
What Does Self-Care Even Look Like?
Self-care does not have to cost you a lot of money, time, or effort, but it must be intentional. In order for self-care to be optimized, you must be intentional about what you are doing and practice it more than once. Some simple ways to integrate self-care into your life are:
- Take a shower or bath
- Get enough sleep
- Eat healthy and nourishing foods
- Move your body
- Listen to music
- Watch your favorite movie
- Take a coffee break
- Call a friend
- Enjoy nature
- Be creative; paint, draw, write, etc.
- Make your environment clean and enjoyable
- Seek help if you need it
What works for you?