With the holidays in full swing, we’d like to take a moment to remember the caregivers -- the parents and grandparents who take care of sick children as well as the women and men who tend aging parents, sick spouses or other family members, neighbors and friends. Caregivers’ lives are busy and sometimes stressful, and the last thing they need is another request. But the SecondsCount Team has a request nonetheless:
Caregivers, in the coming year, don’t forget to pause to take care of yourselves. You need it, and it will help you be there for loved ones in the coming years. In 2014, resolve to guard your heart against heart disease, a leading cause of the death in the United States.
Caregiving is a labor of love, usually meaningful and rewarding, but it can also be a source of emotional strain and stress, both of which can be damaging to your heart health. So take some time for yourself, and set specific, easily achievable goals for heart health. The tips below can help you get started.
In 2014, resolve to guard your heart in ways like these:
- Make a point (and the time) to be happy and to savor life’s little joys. Take a break: Taking time for yourself isn’t abandoning the people you care for; it’s recharging. Find someone who can take over your duties for a day, and do something you enjoy. Have lunch with a friend or treat yourself to massage therapy.
- Make one heart-healthy change in your diet. Resolving to make one dietary change can achieve big results over time without the pressure of the vague goal to “eat right and exercise.” Swap soda or juice for water, reduce alcohol, or only have dessert only one or two times per week.
- Make and keep doctor’s appointments. You schedule appointments for loved ones and drive them to the doctor’s office, but when was your last checkup? Schedule a doctor’s appointment and ask questions during your appointment. Don’t forget to ask your primary care physician or gynecologist about your heart health.
- Take prescribed medications as directed. You likely help loved ones take their medications exactly as prescribed. If you are taking medications, make sure you take them with the same consistency and accuracy you would insist on for your family and friends.
- Be sure to incorporate exercise into your schedule. It can be tempting after a long day of working and taking care of others to settle in front of the television or computer to relax. However, being sedentary can be damaging to your heart health. Talk with your doctor about the exercise level that is safe for you.
Resolve to extend some of the caring you routinely give to others to yourself in the coming year. Your heart will thank you.
From the team at SecondsCount, we wish you a healthy and happy new year.