Unless we consciously carve out time for self-care, constant food allergy management can slowly erode our sense of well-being.
Signs of allergy-care burnout include trouble sleeping, diminished motivation, lack of joy in normally pleasurable activities, and a sense of helplessness, or hopelessness. We may go from being highly irritable to feeling emotionally blunted, and might even have thoughts that life is not worth living.
To address signs of burnout, certified life coach Gina Clowes, specializing in the needs of food allergy families, offers nine tips for tending to our needs while caring for others:
- Move the Body. Maybe there’s little time for exercise, but small periods of activity scattered throughout day are beneficial. Twenty-minute walks, 10 minutes of yoga, dancing to a favorite song, playing tag with the kids, or 15 minutes of shooting hoops can easily add up to the CDC’s recommended 150 minutes of moderate weekly activity.
Get Plenty of Shuteye. Creating a nighttime routine that allows us to relax for 30 minutes before turning in promotes good sleep. It’s also best to keep the bedroom slightly cool, dark as possible, and gadget free.
Nix Multitasking. Doing one thing at a time reduces stress, cuts down on mistakes, and may actually save us time.
Avoid Overbooking. Consider carefully before agreeing to do something so your days aren’t crowded with activities that leave no room for self care, or the unexpected.
Enlist Helpers. It’s exhausting to think we are solely responsible for our family’s food allergy management, and maybe everything else besides. It’s important to find trusted helpers - spouse, friend, sibling, aunt, a sitter - who can regularly help out, or even takeover for a few hours.
Socialize. Any type of regular socializing is good for our mental and emotional health, such as having coffee with friends, talking to other parents during play-group sessions, going to a support group meeting, or volunteering at a local food bank.
Nature Nurture. Try to spend some time outdoors every day. Sunshine, fresh air, and exposure to nature are proven mood boosters.
A Good Start. Starting our day on a high note can influence the hours that follow. Create 15 morning minutes to do some gentle stretching, enjoy a cup of coffee, journal, mediate, or read something inspiring—whatever puts a smile on your face.
Stay Current. We need to keep our own eye, dental, and medical appointments up-to-date, and occasionally treat ourselves to a wardrobe update.
These suggestions are ultimately for the well-being of our family since care-giving requires energy, and to have energy we must nurture ourselves. Implementing even one or two of the tips can make a positive difference for everyone in our circle of influence.