Being a caregiver can be a rewarding experience, especially if you diligently take care of your own well-being at the same time. You could choose a variety of strategies for this, and there are also many devices that can make self-care easier. Your role as caregiver can be meaningful and even help strengthen your relationships, despite it likely arriving as an unplanned change in one’s life. While rewarding, it may also have a negative impact on your own health, which can cause burnout. Caregiving can wear a person down, physically and mentally, and there may be financial, emotional, and social consequences too. Many caregivers do not recognize the stress they are under because the focus is on making sure their loved one(s) are taken care of.
In 2018, 25% of Canadians (about 7.8 million) aged 15 and older cared for an individual with a long-term health condition, a physical or mental disability, or problems related to aging.1 Caregivers are likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety and may feel overwhelmed, tired, lose interest in activities, or feel sad—in the long run these can negatively affect one’s health. Caring for oneself and ensuring their own health and wellbeing is in a good state is one of the most important ways caregivers can remain effective in their role.
Caregivers can get support for themselves and look after their own wellbeing by connecting with those who have similar experiences, asking for help, and by making time for themselves. Technology can play a part in supporting caregivers to take care of themselves whether by helping them become more aware of their wellbeing or by providing new ways of relaxation. Here are 5 ways caregivers can use technology for self-care.
Day light lamp
Many of us do not get enough sunlight throughout the day but light can play a role in one’s mood. Light therapy has shown benefit, especially for those who may experience anxiety or depression in the winter months.2 PureGuardian tabletop LED energy light simulates a full-spectrum light and gives an extra dose of illumination when the days are short or when one spends most of their time indoors. Keep in mind that light exposure mimics sunlight and helps a person’s internal clock stay aligned with the environment. Light exposure should be used during the day to prevent it from affecting sleep.
Noise Fan Sound Machine
Good sleep is paramount to self-care. However, getting a good night sleep isn’t always easy, especially if you are under a lot of stress. You may find it impossible to fall back asleep after awaking in the middle of the night. If you are having trouble sleeping due to ambient noise in the environment (perhaps a siren or noisy animal outside), a white noise machine can help block them out. The LectroFan white noise and sound machine can help with genera relaxation. It can allow you to focus on soothing sounds; it has 20 distinct sounds, 10 varieties of fan sounds, and 10 white noise variations.
Sleep and Activity Tracker
While sleeping, our bodies are recharging and repairing, to prepare for the days ahead. Understanding one’s sleep can provide more insight into improving sleep hygiene. There are wearable devices that can help with understanding what’s going on while sleeping, to ensure the body can optimally recharge overnight. Withings is an under the mattress sleep sensor that can be slipped right under the mattress to detect sleep cycles, heart rate and snoring. It analyzes sleep and coaches the user to achieve better sleep.
Regular physical activity is also important, and it can provide many benefits including reducing anxiety. Regular physical activity can also help thinking, learning, judgement skills and help with reducing the risk of depression as well as promote better sleep.3 Being active can come in many forms and it doesn’t have to involve high amounts of intense activity. The benefits of physical activity accumulte; any amount of moderate activity such as regular brisk walking or daily chores will be beneficial. Fitbit and Apple watches are equipped with sleep and activity sensors, keeping a record of both. These wearables allow one to better understand their daily activity levels and provide encouragement to meet their activity goals.
With stress, caregivers may develop tension in their body. Self-massage can help decrease pain and help to increase awareness of where the pain may be and what causes it. Theragun G3PRO massager is designed to massage deep into your muscles for a relaxing and recuperative experience. It comes with six attachments to target specific parts of your body and is equipped with an industrial-grade motor for long-lasting durability and power. Foot massage is also a great way to relax and pamper tired, sore feet after standing for long periods or being out and about all day. Beurer Shiatsu Foot Massager penetrates deeply to soothe one’s feet and helps to unwind at the end of the day.
Meditation provides many benefits—from increased self-esteem to lowered levels of anxiety and depression.4 Meditation is a new concept for many but there are apps available online that can help as a starting point. Another tool that can be used is the Muse headband. The sensors on Muse’s headband provide real-time feedback on brain activity, heart rate, breathing, and body movements designed to guide meditation to support in finding calmness.
For the health and wellbeing of caregivers, self-care is essential. Self-care will not only help the caregiver’s wellbeing, but it will also help them to continue to be an effective caregiver. Finding products that can support caregivers, whether that is a sleep tracker, a massager, or a Fitbit, can enable caregivers to manage their day-to-day stress and empower them to keep positive.
2 Here to help https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/light-therapy
3 Benefits of Physical Activity https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm
4 Mindful Meditation may ease anxiety, mental stress https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967