Kids, Parents, Pets and Plants: The Family Caregiver’s Mini-Guide to Better Health

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So many people are taking care of one or even both parents these days that they don’t have time for themselves. Between raising children, taking care of pets, plants, family members, and working outside the home, the stress can take its toll on your health. Here’s how to fight back and attain inner peace.

 

Missing Sleep

Missing sleep is the number one problem most people face today. Even when diet and exercise is on-point, poor sleep can wreak havoc on hormones in the body, make it impossible to recover from stress, and can actually make you very ill yourself.

Sleep deprivation isn’t always obvious, and some of the classic symptoms include an inability to think clearly, flattened emotional responses, apathy toward things that used to interest you, irritability, and a general sense of being unwell. Of course, being sleepy is a symptom too, but chronic sleep deprivation creates a “new normal,” so some people don’t realize that their chronic fatigue is actually sleep deprivation.

The risks to your health are enormous too. Lack of sleep increases cardiovascular morbidity and mortality (death from heart problems). Women are especially vulnerable.

Solving this problem is simple, in theory. You need more sleep. You need better quality sleep. But, if you’re taking care of everyone else but yourself, the solution really is to hire help or get help from someone else so that you can take a break. Getting a solid 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep will make a world of difference.

 

Bad Diet

When you’re taking care of others, it’s easy to let your own diet slip. People often turn to fast food and quick and easy solutions. But, this causes its own problems. Signs and symptoms of health problems resulting from poor dietary choices usually aren’t apparent until there’s a serious issue.

For example, a heart attack is the result of years of poor diet and lifestyle choices, and it comes on suddenly, often without a lot of warning. But, the underlying causes are known. If you know you have a bad diet, one of the first steps you can take to monitor your situation is to get a simple LifeScan blood glucose meter and monitor your blood sugar.

This will give you early warnings of a lot of health problems – especially diabetes. Your reaction to the foods you eat immediately after you finish a meal will tell you what you need to do. For example, if you see that your blood sugar spikes abnormally high, or you have a fasting blood sugar level of 126 or more, it’s time to see the doctor.

 

Exercise

Aerobic and weight-bearing exercise can be awesome for your physical health, but it’s important not to overdo it. Regular, repeated stress to your body only makes you stronger when you give yourself time to recover. So, we’re back to the sleep thing again. Make some time for the gym, and then make time for sleep. You’ll get stronger, healthier, and you’ll be able to better take care of the people you love and cherish.

 

“Me Time”

Sometimes what you need is “me time.” Most people overlook this because they think it’s just not that important. But, it is. Downtime, especially if you’re going to a spa, is a great way to relax and rejuvenate your spirit. It will also give you the energy to deal with the unrelenting stress you face every day.

Theresa Nelson has worked in a health club for several years now. An avid blogger, she likes to help others get fit by sharing her insights online. Look for her illuminating articles on a variety of websites and blog sites, too.

 

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