5 Cheap and Cheerful Self-Care Tips For Carers

Self-care is a sensitive issue for many carers.

If we’re not feeling guilty about being self-indulgent, we’re struggling to find the time or the money to do something for ourselves.

While traipsing off for facials, eating organic food, and spending an hour at the gym each day would be wonderful, for most of us this just isn’t practical or affordable.

So how do we overcome these issues of guilt, time and money?

Well, the guilt issue is a straightforward one.

We’re here to reconfirm (in case you didn’t know) that self-care is not self-indulgence. It’s 100% self-respect.

It’s also selfless. There’s much evidence to suggest that the quality of life of the person you’re caring for will only ever be as good as your own health and wellbeing.

That makes your own self-care vital if you’re worried about your ability to provide the best care possible.

What’s not often recognised is that self-care doesn’t have to be costly or time consuming.

What if I could tell you that you could get better sleep, reduce chronic pain, reduce stress and feel calm in the toughest of situations, all for less than 20 minutes and $5 a day?

Sound good?

At Care Passport, your care is our primary focus. We want to encourage it, reward it and make it easier for you to do. This article is just the very start of what’s to come, but to kick us off, I thought I would start with the 5 self-care tips that helped me when I was struggling the most with caring for my sister.

Happily, most of my favourites take five minutes and are completely free.

1. Get some sleep with the 4–7–8 method

Time: Less than a minute

Cost: Free

The benefits of better sleep are endless. However the extreme anxiety that often comes with caring can make sleep very difficult to attain.

Mindful breathing techniques have been shown to reduce stress and improve sleep and this is the best technique I’ve come across.

The 4–7–8 method was invented by a clever guy called Dr Weil and it helps you fall asleep in under a minute.

As a committed user of this method, I can attest to its effectiveness!

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Place the tip of your tongue against the tissue ridge right above your upper front teeth. Keep it there for the remainder of the exercise.

Step 2: Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound as you do so.

Step 3: Close your mouth and inhale slowly through your nose while mentally counting to four.

Step 4: Hold your breath for a mental count of seven.

Step 5: Exhale completely through your mouth for a mental count of eight. Make the same whoosh sound from Step Two.

Step 6: This concludes the first cycle. Repeat the same process three more times for a total of four renditions.

If you wake up again, you simply rinse and repeat this process.

2. Reduce tension with a Sun Salutation yoga workout

Time: 5 mins

Cost: Free

Sun salutations are possibly the most popular yoga sequence around, and for good reason! Sun Salutations stretch all of the major muscle groups, helping to relieve tension and relax the mind.

Lay down a towel, pop your phone on the floor in front of you and follow this simple video.

3. Let it all out by having a chat

Time: 10 mins or more

Cost: Free

Reaching out and talking to someone about your feelings is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your mental health. While it can feel a bit intimidating at first, reaching out to other carers can really help ease those frustrations and anxieties and show you you’re not alone.

There are heaps of ways you can reach out to other carers for support, especially if your own support networks don’t really get what you’re going through. You can check out carer support groups, facebook groups, forums, or you could even start your own meet-up group.

4. Reduce pain with an Epsom salt bath

Time: 15 mins

Cost: $4

Epsom Salts are made of magnesium. Magnesium plays an important role in many bodily functions, like muscle control, electrical impulses, energy production and the elimination of harmful toxins.

Among its long list of benefits is stress relief, detoxification and pain reduction.

Most of us are deficient in magnesium and the most effective way to get this great stuff into your system is to bath in it.

Add 2 cups to a bath full of warm water and soak for 15 minutes. Easy!

5. Meditate and feel peaceful no matter how tough your day is

Time: 5 mins

Cost: Free

Meditation is no longer just for monks and hippies. Meditation is going mainstream and for good reason, the most important of which being stress reduction. Reduced stress impacts on everything, from from your happiness to your physical health.

Happily, you don’t need to do it for a long time to reap the benefits. Just a few minutes a day will make a big difference.

The biggest tip I can share about meditation is to not overthink it. It’s totally natural for thoughts to creep in and distract you. When you notice it, just refocus and try again. No biggie.

Even better, there’s loads of free meditation apps to help you get started.

I love Insight Timer. It’s easy to use, helps you track your progress and offers loads of different meditations.

Headspace is also an excellent App for beginners.

So there you have it!

Self-care in under 20 mins and for less that $5. You don’t get self-care much cheaper and quicker than that.