New Year’s Resolutions for Caregivers

Many see the changing calendar as an opportunity for a fresh beginning, which gives rise to the tradition of New Year’s resolutions. Yet despite our best intentions, we often break these promises to ourselves before February.

Are you planning to make resolutions? As you review the past year and think about changes you’d like to make in the future, it’s important to set sensible parameters to make your goals more achievable and avoid setting yourself up for failure. This article offers practical guidance to make your aims realistic, specific, and positive.

If you’re wondering what sort of resolutions to make, make this the year you start to practice SELF CARE:

Sleep well

You can’t take proper care of yourself or anyone else if you’re sleep deprived. Period. A dark bedroom, nighttime rituals, and even warm milk are traditional “fixes” for better sleep, but also check out the apps mentioned here for some good ideas. Avoid using electronic devices before bedtime, too.

Eat wisely

Keep the focus on a healthy diet, but don’t forget to allow for an indulgence now and then. Austerity can be soul sapping.

Laugh

Some days, this is easier said than done. But a sense of humor is vital to maintaining your mental equilibrium, and medical research indicates that a positive outlook can lead to better physical health, too.

Forgive yourself

You won’t be able to do it all. In fact, you may have days where you do very little, or do anything as well as you’d like. On really rough days, be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend who’s having a hard time.

Check up on your health

Make appointments for regular exams. In addition to your annual physical, schedule well care visits (such as with a gynecologist), screenings (such as with a dermatologist), and eye exams and dental check-ups. Be sure your immunizations for flu, shingles, and pneumonia are up to date!

Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to request help from family, friends, or professionals. Consider joining a caregiver support group—hearing from others who know what you’re going through can make a world of difference in your stress levels.

Recharge

Set a goal to take an hour a day just for yourself, but schedule at least 15 minutes—yes, in your calendar!—so you actually take some time to relax every day. Read a book, take a walk, get a manicure, do some woodworking or a craft, listen to music, or call a friend—something that you find pleasant and relaxing. Plan a longer respite period, maybe for a concert or dinner, once a month.

Exercise

You don’t have to join a gym or hire a personal trainer (although that’s wonderful, if you’re so inclined). Take the stairs instead of the escalator, dance around the kitchen, or walk the dog an extra block or two. Every little bit helps.

Download and print out these New Year’s resolution cards as reminders to take care of yourself this year.