I’ve found that I have much less energy to give in other aspects of life like my research or programs I manage at a nonprofit. Once I stop being able to speak competently in full sentences, I know I’m close to burn out, and it can take weeks of relaxing and doing nothing to feel normal.

Obviously, I’d like to avoid this. Websites are full of self care advice, and yes, meditation, baths, massages, yoga... all sound lovely. But most are not what I can see myself actually doing, especially long term, to keep myself healthy. I keep my mornings low key and try to sleep in. I regularly pray. I try to be gentle with myself. But, it’s not enough. Watching movies and scrolling Pinterest does not seem to help.

Has anyone successfully added self care to their routine? What you do?

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I have tried various self help and they all fall short of Christ care.

Jesus loves you, Jesus cares about you. He is just a prayer away. Joseph a son of Jehovah
I have lived a very challenging life and would never had made it without His help.
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All the things like warm baths, music, etc. only help me a little. Only two things really work for me--because they occupy my mind enough that I eventually forget the ten zillion things I need to be doing. (I've found that once I've been able to turn off the never-ending thoughts and worries inside my head for a while, it's easier to do other self-care things.) 
One of these things is a long binge of reading (sort of like the equivalent of streaming a whole season of tv shows at one time). And if you can cover up with a soft throw so you are warm and cozy, it works even better. I can stew and fret while watching tv or a movie, but not while reading.
The other thing that works is doing jigsaw puzzles. I get so involved in finding the next piece that I'm amazed how much time passes. And I'm also amazed at how much calmer my whole body feels.  
And it's not just me that puzzles work for. Back when DH had aides coming into the home, one of the things they did was work on puzzles with him. They started with being resentful at doing them, and the next thing we knew they were showing off puzzles they had bought to do at home. And more than once an aide clocked out when her shift was over, and stayed so she could finish the puzzle they were working on!
Sorry this is so long, but one other thing that helps me is writing things out. I can type fast, so my fingers move too quickly to really censor myself, and sometimes after writing for a while I'll look at the computer screen and think--wow, where did that come from? And it's exactly what I need to know or understand or take care of right at that time. I recommend the book "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. She talks about the benefits of doing "morning pages", where you write about whatever comes to mind. She recommends three freehand pages every morning. But I've had good results on the computer. And I've found that if I do this every day for a couple of weeks, I feel much lighter, solutions to things start to appear, and my thinking is clearer.
When all else fails... Years ago, when I was first a caregiver, I went to a seminar where the speaker talked about going to his exercise class to help burn off stress from caregiving. He said one day he was so agitated that at certain really active parts of the class, he started yelling. And he said that in just a minute, the whole class was yelling right along with him! Sometimes quiet and peaceful just isn't enough.
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polarbear Aug 2020
Yelling works for me, too. I remember when my mom was still living with me and I was under constant stress, I would go inside the van, shut the door and screamed.
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I have been involved in intense family caregiving for over a years. The one thing I have found that is the most helpful to me is girlfriends, especially those who are currently involved in caregiving or who have been and understand me before I even have to explain how I feel. This does not necessarily require lunch dates, Trips, movies, etc., although these are great. It can be as simple as texts, telephone calls and the one thing I have found most helpful is to have a fellow caregiver as a walking buddy.
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I struggle mightily to put myself first. BUT, I have come to realize that if I don't, then I have no energy, physical or mental for others.

I had cancer last year and am still recovering. My follow up treatment exhausts me for days afterward and I am forced to rest and sleep a lot for about a week.

I've learned to not overbook myself and to say 'no'.

I 'divorced' my toxic MIL. I will never speak to her again, and that is fine.

I'm estranged from my own mother as she is the worst trigger for my anxiety and depression. I see her only when I chose to and only for as long as I want.

I'm slowly dejunking our home in the hopes that DH will be more amenable to us moving to a 'retirement friendly' home.

I sleep when I am tired and don't try to be superwoman.

I'm prayerful and adhere to my religious beliefs.

I try to not let COVID and the nation's craziness affect me. (This is HARD!)

I finally got properly dxed with a mild heart condition--which I have been treating now for a week and already feel better---

I give service when I can but not to the point of exhaustion.

Realized through all this, I do way too much for others. And when you do things for someone who didn't want the help--they aren't grateful, nor should you expect them to be.

At age 64, I'm STILL trying to figure this all out!!
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Davenport Aug 2020
Your reply was a boost of practical advice/hope I needed, Midkid58 : ) I'm also a midkid, am 65+ now, and 'STILL trying to figure this all out!' : )
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For me, a 15 minute exercise routine usually does me good. While I work out, my mind gets a mental break. After the workout, my body feels invigorating, and I feel like I can tackle almost any task. Is this my routine? Well, not quite, but I'm trying...
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I would recommend first paying attention to the basics:
7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep,
3 nutritious meals that have the full complement of proteins, carbs, fat and vitamins,
about 2 liters of fluids - no caffeine - daily
some exercise that gets all the major muscles moving: walking. dancing, housework...

Try that for a week or 2. If you find that your still are having troubles, consider whether stress may be a problem.
Prayer, meditation, reading faith materials (I like the Bible) may help you feel connected with the Divine.
Make time for connections with other people daily. We all have differing needs for "me time" versus "we time." Consider trying to find your sweet spot on that metric.
Make time for play. Everybody needs to have fun things to do and look forward to. Try to incorporate a "Sabbath" - 1 day of the week to NOT work but spend in rest and recreation. Get a few additional hours snuck into the week to get more "R & R."

If a couple of weeks of basics and stress management don't change your energy levels, it is time to visit your doctor. Depression is the common cold of mental health issues. Also sneaky issues with hormones can also give you that "dragging feeling." I suggest start with a visit to a medical doctor whose practice is based on research and who keeps up to date. He/she can do a good physical and usually find root physical causes for your energy loss. He/She can also make a consult for good psychiatric care if mental health is a concern.
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Long walks on the beach and swimming in the ocean helps me!! Also reading books after books keeps my mind occupied. I feel
for you!
You must have time for you!
Good luck!
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Hey, both my parents have now passed - but when I was taking care of both of them (cancer and heart/kidney disease), along with working, three kids, three dogs and two parrots, I stayed sane on a daily basis by mindlessly driving away. Anywhere, didn't matter where. The act of getting in the car and just getting away from the house somehow kept me above water - I am a social person - and did indeed lean on girlfriends, I have hobbies, a hubby, not afraid of all the typical "self-care suggestions" - but in the end, the thought of doing many of these required more energy than I could muster. I thought - i really want to escape - just straight up run away. And so I would. After years with a mini van, I had bought an old convertible and I would "run away" - driving down neighborhood streets, getting on the highway, whatever worked for me. Like LA, the traffic in Atlanta is horrific, so I would most often pick back streets that I knew were visually interesting (although I'm not sure I really cared) Sometimes I would take a kid with me, but it really evolved into mom's time alone. I think this habit saved my life. Seriously. I hope you find your thing. But yes, self-care ideas - at the time - just made me more tired.
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I try to take a walk everyday. Just 15 minutes. Other days read a book or if you like an arts and craft like coloring or paint my numbers. If you are into dancing try a Zumba class or dancing to the oldies on your computer. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you enjoy it. I never meditated but I sometimes for 10 minutes follow a free app on my phone. It helps relax you. Hope something here peaks your interest.
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Funny, but I just read this quote by Sylvester McNutt:

"If you're a giver always looking out for others, always feeling drained because you break yourself so others can stay together, take a break from it. Add self-love and peace to your life first."

For me, self-care means taking a break; going on a vacation or even a stay-cation where no phone visits with my mother are allowed. Taking a break means taking a mental break from the 24/7 mental stress that goes along with all of this, and THAT is what's hard to do. The only thing that gives my mind some well deserved rest is not talking or interacting with my mother at ALL for a few days or a week or two at a time. Before the plague hit, DH and I would go on a vacation to Europe for 2 weeks at a pop where there was NO contact with the real world. That was my only reprieve, honestly. Now that we don't have that opportunity, I believe DH and I 'are going away for the weekend' this coming Friday and won't be back till Monday, if you catch my drift.

Wishing you the best of luck trying to figure out how to take YOUR break from all of it.
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