Section: Barnabas Health Home Care and Hospice News

Maintaining Energy While Caregiving


There's no question that caring for others can be taxing on your mind and body. Constant demands may lead to exhaustion, a change in demeanor and also affect your overall health.

Help keep yourself energized and healthy with these tips from Barnabas Health Home Care and Hospice:

Good Nutrition

As the saying goes . . . you are what you eat. It's important to make healthy food choices to ensure your body receives proper nourishment. The five food groups - fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods and dairy - are the building blocks to a healthy diet. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) each food group offers various health benefits and disease fighting properties.

Looking for an energy boost to help get you through the day? These foods may do just the trick, combined with avoiding processed foods, refined sugars and hydrogenated fats.

  • Fruits: apples, apricots, raisins and strawberries
  • Vegetables: broccoli, kale, spinach, squash, peppers and asparagus
  • Grains: brown rice, popcorn, quinoa, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta and oatmeal
  • Protein-rich foods: poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, peas, nuts, seeds and soy products
  • Dairy: low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt and Frozen Yogurt
  • Depending on your age, gender and activity level, the exact amount of food you should consume from each group will vary. To learn about the right balance of foods for you, visit

Exercise – Pump Up Your Endorphins

Exercise will do wonders for your mind and body! Did you know that regular exercise will help you boost energy, improve your mood and combat health conditions?

Physical activity stimulates endorphins – the body's natural opiates, designed to relieve stress and enhance pleasure. Often referred to as a "runner's high," a game of tennis or a hike also can contribute to this same feeling.

So, if you need an emotional lift or to blow off some steam after a stressful day, consider a brisk walk or workout at the gym. Pick an activity that you enjoy, so it's not a "chore." You'll find that a little exercise will go a long way!

Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.

Catch Up On Your Zzzzzzs

Chronic lack of sleep can take a toll on your health and affect your energy level. Most adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, getting an adequate amount of sleep lowers stress, improves mood, helps maintain a healthy weight, improves coordination and increases your ability to pay attention.

Sometimes the pressure of caring for a loved one can make it difficult to sleep. To improve your sleep and increase your energy, try the following techniques from the National Sleep Foundation to optimize your sleep.

  • Keep a schedule: set up a sleep schedule and stick to it, both on weekdays and weekends.
  • Get into a relaxing routine. Take a hot bath or read a book, but don't pay bills or play video games, as these can be too rousing.
  • Make your room sleep-conducive. Dark, quiet, cool, and soothing should do the trick.
  • Sleep on a comfy bed and pillows.
  • Don't eat within two to three hours of going to bed, since doing so can make you feel uncomfortable and less likely to sleep well.
  • Exercise regularly, as this can boost sleep, but don't exercise close to bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine (even in teas and chocolate) six to eight hours before bed.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol before bed as it causes people to wake up more at night.

Make time for "Me" Time

When you're busy caring for others, setting aside time for yourself is often last on the list of priorities. Carving out some "me time" will do wonders. Just taking a little time to simply relax or enjoy a hobby can be therapeutic and energizing.

"Me" time ideas:

  • Exercising: yoga, pilates, running, walking, weight training or dancing
  • Creating: knitting, building or painting
  • Pampering: manicure, pedicure or massage
  • Reading
  • Cooking
  • Meditating

Don't have time for "Me" Time? Try these tips:

  • Schedule "Me" Time - Start off with just 15 minutes a day, and gradually increase the time. Devoting specific times to yourself helps you make "Me" time a priority. During "Me time" indulge yourself and do something you like to do. Maybe it's reading a book, watching your favorite TV show or having a cup of tea in a fancy tea cup.
  • Say NO - Be protective of your "Me" time and say no. Be selective with what you take on and don't add one more random thing to your to-do list. Take a moment before you respond to someone's request for help. It's perfectly acceptable to say "I'm not sure I can commit to that - I'll need to get back to you" or "As much as I'd like to help, I have too much going on right now."
  • Learn to Lean on Others - While letting go of control can sometimes be difficult, accepting the offers of friends or neighbors to help you through a difficult time can be extremely beneficial. The smallest favors can go a long way - from walking the dog to taking out the trash.
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