Did you know that caregivers are reported to experience heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes at higher rates than individuals who are not caregivers? It’s true! Long-term stress resulting from providing care for your sick or disabled loved one or client can lead to risky behaviors, including poor diet, increased use of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, smoking, and excess alcohol consumption, which can ultimately lead to physical distress. Physical distress may also result from painful injuries and musculoskeletal disorders due to overexertion while providing personal care for your sick or disabled loved one or client. Your physical health is vital to your longevity as a caregiver, so it is important to take the proper steps to care for yourself to avoid physical distress and, ultimately, burnout.
The Caregiver Wellness: U model?
Physical wellness is a part of the Caregiver Wellness: U model, a conceptual model that incorporates the movement toward social, psychological, physical, intellectual, spiritual, occupational, and financial wellness, while also incorporating the empowerment and resilience necessary to take charge of your health on a holistic basis.
What does it mean to be physically well?
Physical wellness encompasses all the activities that keep you physically healthy as a caregiver. According to the Caregiver Wellness: U model, you are physically well if you exercise regularly, participate in physical activity without bodily pain, keep your blood pressure under control, abstain from smoking, eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight, limit your alcohol consumption, and get adequate rest.
Measure your physical wellness
Please take this opportunity to evaluate your physical wellness. Following are six statements; consider each statement openly and honestly. Assign two points (2) if you agree with the statement, assign one point (1) if you somewhat agree, and do not assign any points (0) if you do not agree with the statement.
I currently eat a well-balanced diet and am at a healthy weight.
I do not suffer from any physical health problems that might interfere with my ability to care for my loved one.
I participate in moderate physical activity at least two to three times each week.
I get adequate sleep each night.
I do not smoke and my alcohol consumption is limited.
My blood pressure is under control.
Evaluate your physical wellness score
A score of 9 or higher may indicate that you are physically well.
A score between 4 and 8 may indicate that you are doing okay with your physical wellness.
A score between 0 and 4 may indicate that you might want to reach out to improve your physical wellness.
Strategies to improve your physical wellness
The following are three strategies to improve your physical wellness.
Participate in regular physical activity. It is important to schedule adequate time for physical activity. If you need to increase your physical activity, you might consider attending an exercise club, going for a walk, getting a gym membership, or even using an exercise video. Please make sure you check with your doctor prior to starting any new exercise program. It does not matter which activity you choose, it is only important to make sure you are taking time out for regular physical activity.
Maintain good nutrition. Eating a well-balanced diet does not apply only to your loved one. When you eat, it is important to take time to sit and enjoy our meals. Avoid snacking on commercial snack food; instead, try fresh fruit and vegetables. If you are in need of nutritional assistance, seek advice from a professional nutritionist. Try whatever works best for your circumstances to assist you in eating well.
If you are drinking, smoking, or taking medications in excess to cope with your caregiving challenges, please reach out to your doctor or another health care professional for help. Providing care can be stressful; however, it is important to find healthy ways to cope with your stress and to avoid distress and, ultimately, burnout.
Get adequate rest. It is important to find balance in relation to sleep by figuring out how many hours of sleep you need to function optimally. Each person requires a different amount of sleep; however, an average of eight hours is recommended. If you need sleep aids, time to unwind, or a relaxing bath to calm yourself, please seek these out.
If your loved one needs assistance throughout the night, you might have someone assist at night so you can get sleep. Consider utilizing respite services or whatever it takes to get the rest you need. When you have adequate rest, you have the opportunity to handle most anything that comes your way.
Listen to the Caregiver Support Radio: Caregiver Wellness podcast series. Caregivers are encouraged to listen to the Caregiver Wellness: It Is Up to U podcasts. The yearlong series offered on Caregiver Support Radio will explore the nine components of caregiver wellness. Please use the following link for a full description of the show and to blog.
Physical wellness is an important part of the Caregiver Wellness: U model. It is not directed at a specific disease; rather, it is an approach to expand on the positive potential you possess to improve your overall health and wellness as a caregiver. Please take steps to improve your physical wellness.