Caregivers are under siege during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s hardly unexpected given the stressors involved. Healthy coping mechanisms can only do so much to counter the reality, and the nation’s 65 million caregivers are struggling to find some healthy balance.
Numerous studies document their pain: the Rosalynn Carter Caregiving Institute released a report in October that found 83 percent of caregivers are dealing with increased stress. A Harvard University study found that four in 10 caregivers are feeling more psychological distress since the pandemic started to impact the United States in January 2020.
A poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation just one month into the national shutdown revealed that four in 10 Americans were struggling with negative mental health issues, a number that likely is on the rise.
The stressors include many caregivers being forced to handle long-care services because some day cares have been shut down. Caregivers have also been unable to visit loved ones in nursing homes and other facilities because of high-risk scenarios.
But there are ways to cope during these turbulent times. Some are simple and easy. Here are five practical and useful tips for caregivers (and others concerned about their mental and physical health during these stressful times):
Deep breathing. Masking up is essential but it also deprives us of breathing naturally. Take the time to take your mask off every now and then, find a safe space, and breathe deeply to re-energize your body and get yourself re-centered. Deep breathing will send more oxygen to your brain.
Exercise. Even a short walk will help circulate blood that carries oxygen to the brain. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least “150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity,” for healthy adults during the week.
Eat healthy and properly. Cut down on sodium, which increases blood pressure, which then raises the risk for heart disease and stroke. Try adding a fish with healthy fats (salmon or tuna) into your meals at least twice a week.
Meditation. It can help lower your blood pressure and alleviate certain psychological disorders, and pain.
Sleeping. The CDC suggests that you remain consistent with your sleeping habits. “Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends.”Bonus tip: Take a bubble bath. It boosts immunity while also relieving toxins from the body.