Contributed by Sherri Snelling
Many caregivers are housebound caring for their loved one. It is especially hard after long winter months where you are also hampered by weather from getting outside and enjoying the sunshine. Spring is here (it actually officially started a month ago) and the bright rays of light and fresh air bring a welcome opportunity to get out of the house.
Caregivers often forget to give themselves a break so they can refresh and reinvigorate when caring for a loved one. Following are three easy, inexpensive ways to enjoy Spring and improve your health and wellness at the same time. These tips only take a few minutes a day to recharge your batteries:
1. Get your move on – Buy a pedometer (there are a lot of inexpensive models you can get online or at sporting goods stores) and ensure you are walking at least 10,000 steps a day (this is approximately five miles – it may sound like a long distance but it is actually not). If you start out and find you are fewer than 10,000 steps, TheWalkingSite.com recommends adding 500 steps every day for each week until you reach the goal. Walking strengthens your back muscles and your bones, reduces stress, helps you to sleep better, is easier on your joints than running or other aerobic exercise, burns calories and helps lower your cholesterol. Since we changed our clocks for daylight savings you now have more hours in the day before sundown to get your walking program off the ground. The best part – you only need a good pair of walking shoes and that inexpensive pedometer.
2. Stop and smell the flowers – literally! Studies show that just a few minutes outdoors every day can improve your sense of well-being. Take a neighborhood stroll, visit a florist or an outdoor market and breathe in the wonderful scents of the following:
- Lavender and sandalwood are associated with soothing and relaxation and will aid sleep – do this later in the day or early evening.
- Lemongrass, sage, jasmine and peppermint are associated with invigoration and will give you an energetic mood lift – do this first thing in the morning or when you need a boost in the afternoon.
3. Download this – Scientists have proven that hearing your favorite tunes triggers a dopamine release in your brain that gives you pleasure. Are you a Madonna, Adele or Cher fan? Load up that iPod and take your walk, or create a CD for your car that you can play as you run errands. Pick upbeat tunes that help you get your groove on – even if it is only rocking out in the car. You can also make a song list for your loved one if you are “taxi-ing” them around town or to doctor appointments – rockabilly, big band and pop stations from every decade are available on internet radio channels or create your own channel on Pandora or Grooveshark. Turn up the volume, sing along and be transported to that happy place.
Spring is a time of renewal – renew your commitment to yourself to balance self-care while caregiving and enjoy the great outdoors. Happy Spring!
©2012 Sherri Snelling
Sherri Snelling, CEO and founder of the Caregiving Club, is a nationally recognized expert on America’s 65 million family caregivers with special emphasis on how to help caregivers balance “self care” while caring for a loved one. She is the former chairman of the National Alliance for Caregiving and is currently writing a book about celebrities who have been caregivers.