Caregiving is on the rise in America. Recent [CA1] research from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP reveals that the number of Americans providing unpaid care to their loved ones has increased to 53 million in 2020, up 6.5 million from five years prior. That means millions of people just like you can agree: Being a caregiver is be incredibly fulfilling and rewarding. It can also be incredibly challenging and difficult on your physical and mental health.
That’s why it’s important to find time to prioritize yourself. We’ve gathered five fun ways to stay healthy and active to help you manage your stress and improve your overall wellbeing. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll also be stronger and more compassionate toward those you’re caring for.
Exercise with Your Loved Ones
Increasing [CA2] physical activity is so good for you. It’s also beneficial for the people you take care of and a fun way to spend time together outside of your other caregiving tasks. In fact, research shows that regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of falling, improve mood, control weight and let you both get better sleep. Try going for walk together, stretching and gardening.
Skip the Workout, Do Things You Love
If [CA3] you love working out, stick with what you’re doing. But if you’re looking for fun ways to increase your physical activity, consider stepping outside the gym to discover new and exciting exercise options that’ll leave you feeling great. Looking for new ideas to get moving?
- Go dancing: It’s impossible not to have fun while you’re moving to the beat.
- Take a hike: It gets your heart rate up, breaks up your normal routine and lets you explore the great outdoors
- Hit the water: Going swimming or kayaking offers a refreshing way to work out and cool off
Find Reasons to Laugh
We’ve [CA4] all heard the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” But it really is so true. Laughter relaxes your entire body and relieves stress. It also gives your immune system a boost, protects your heart, burns calories and releases endorphins – the natural chemicals your body produces that give you a feeling of wellbeing. There are tons of ways to have a laugh, including the following:
- Put on a funny movie or television show
- Read the comics
- Discover a humorous podcast
- Chuckle with your loved ones
Schedule a Little “You” Time
It’s [CA5] so easy to get caught up in getting everything done on your to-do list and being all things to all the people in your life. All too often, caregivers prioritize everyone else to their own detriment. And that can lead to caregiver exhaustion.
Instead, make sure you take time every single day to do something you love. It’ll help increase your overall joy, decrease stress and make you feel more relaxed and balanced. Need some ideas?
- Curl up with your favorite book
- Listen to great music while cooking or crafting
- Discover new things that you love to do start making it a priority
Shake Things Up
At [CA6] least once a week, switch things up and break your routine. Get out and about – either by yourself or with your loved ones. Something as simple as taking a class or grabbing a coffee at your local cafe can be enjoyable and refreshing. Moving through day-to-day life just following your personal habit patterns can dampen your emotions, prevent you from deeply engaging in the world around you and prevent you from fully experiencing excitement and joy.
Finding fun ways to stay healthy and active can help keep you stronger and happier. And that leaves you more capable of taking care of the people you love.