Fun is not a word that people usually associate with being a caregiver. Taking care of a loved one who has a serious or terminal illness doesn’t conjure up thoughts of play or recreation. How can it? You’ve got hours, days, weeks and even months of tasks that must be done for the person you are caring for as well as yourself and possibly other members of the your family. And most people have got to get things done in the office, too.
“Spare time” gets reserved for little tasks, like repairing a door knob that is loose or pulling weeds in a yard that has been neglected. It’s always a good idea to keep up maintenance on the house but what about when it comes to maintaining your own body? What if you knew how to make that fun enough that you’d want to do it as often as you could?
If you did, you’d enjoy better health, better sleep, and a better attitude.
Here are four ways to make caring for your body fun:
1) Grab a buddy: find someone to exercise with. Preferably this would be someone you like being around who is motivated to be healthy, too. You can walk and talk, hike or bike your favorite park trails together.
2) Join others: group classes are a way to meet new people. Check out what’s available at the local community center where low-cost group exercise programs like tai chi, water aerobic and yoga offer improved flexibility and muscle tone.
3) Dance: Zumba, waltz or line dance to fitness. Benefits include increased endurance and greater balance.
4) Go virtual: TV games like Wii make it possible to exercise any time of day. Programs range from tennis to boxing and are ideal for those times when you aren’t able to leave the house.
Don’t be reluctant to mix up the fun so that you’ve got as many choices as you want or need. Some weeks are better for activities like tai chi or easy walks while others are perfect for the more aerobic options such as dance.
Having a range of activities to select from will make it possible for you to turn this self-care task into a treat that you’ll want to enjoy again and again. In turn, you’ll be more able to find balance between caretaking and taking care.
J. Dietrich Stroeh is author of Three Months: A Caregiving Journey from Heartbreak to Healing (2012 FolkHeart Press). For more information, visit www.threemonthsbook.com.