The New Year is the perfect time to introduce new, healthy habits—and make 2023 even better than 2022. At Best Care, we specialize in supporting family caregivers and their recipients of care, but we are also passionately invested in improving the quality of life of everyone we serve.

When you are a caregiver, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential so you are able to meet the needs of your loved one, which begs the question: “what is a healthy lifestyle?”

Most research studies define a “healthy lifestyle” in terms of diet and exercise because physical health is readily observable, but this definition neglects to take into account your social, emotional, and psychological well-being. 

While your physical health definitely impacts your quality of life, taking care of your mental health is critical to leading a long, healthy, and satisfying life. Here are some ideas to help you live the life of a happy, healthy caregiver.

Add exercise to everyday tasks

Getting together for a nice walk outside with a family member or friend can get you moving for a few minutes and boost your mood while spending time outside. Even while you’re doing tasks out and about, choose to take the stairs whenever possible. Swimming is also an amazing exercise that provides great cardio and relaxation. 

Depending on the physical capabilities of the person you are providing care to, you can also get them involved in daily exercise that will benefit you both. 

Remember: Exercise impacts mental health as well as physical health!

Practice gratitude

Here’s one of the best caregiver tips and tricks we can provide: develop and maintain a sense of gratitude. In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to forget to take time to give thanks for the good things we experience, yet maintaining a sense of gratitude is essential for a rich quality of life.

Studies have found that people who took the time to keep a gratitude journal realized these psychological health benefits:

  • A greater sense of optimism than those who did not keep a gratitude journal
  • Feeling better about their lives than they did before they started keeping the journal
  • Exercising more and went to the doctor less than the control group
  • Being happier than they were before the study

All you need to do to keep a gratitude journal is a pen and a small notebook, yet the rewards are extraordinary for such a small investment. You can also keep a gratitude list on your phone or use an app.

Prepare meals

In the busy life of a caregiver, cooking a balanced meal is simply out of the question every single evening. Save yourself time by planning your meals ahead of time, perhaps on a Sunday afternoon, and batch cook your healthy meals, so you have a tasty dishes to eat after a long day at work. 

Exercise your mind

Studies show that adults who challenge themselves to learn new things and engage in problem-solving are less likely to experience memory loss and the slowdown in thought process associated with aging.

In addition to reading and doing puzzles, another option is to take classes at a local community college. Many schools offer classes for adults, sometimes at discounted prices that can make it easier to challenge yourself and learn something new.

Take time to pamper yourself

When you care for your elderly parents or a loved one with disabilities, it is very easy to forget to do something special for yourself. Many caregivers find it useful to actually schedule some self-pampering time.

Some suggestions for ways you can indulge yourself include:

  • Schedule a massage at a day spa
  • Spend some time at a park
  • Get together with friends
  • Take a weekend trip

By allowing yourself to enjoy some simple pleasures, you recharge your mind, body, and spirit so you avoid burnout and have the energy for caregiving. 

You can also look into respite services, which makes taking a break much easier than trying to find a person to help you on your own.

Find the Support You Need!

Want more tips on how to be a happy, healthy caregiver? Follow our blog for more helpful resources and don’t hesitate to contact Best Care.