Your home for helpful
articles, advice and tips.
Five Ways to Reduce Stress for Caregivers
Juggling a full-time job with even part-time caregiving, in addition to raising a family or other life events can quickly become overwhelming. This is especially true for the more than 32 million Americans caring for elderly parents yet who are hesitant to identify themselves as caregivers.
If you regularly perform housekeeping, grocery shopping, transportation, bill-paying, appointment setting, senior care services, or administer medication for a loved one, you might be a caregiver. If you’re just now realizing this describes you, here are five ways you can dramatically reduce the stress in your life right now.
If you need immediate relief from stress, take a deep breath in right now and hold it while you read the next sentence. Deep breathing instantly calms. Now let out the breath slowly. Repeat this process while you read the rest of the article – taking a deep breath in, holding it for a moment, letting it out slowly. By incorporating regular meditation sessions into your daily schedule, you can significantly reduce the amount of stress you feel. Once you are more in practice, you can bring on a sense of calm any time you need by simply taking a deep breath in, holding it for a moment, and letting it out slowly. Focus on the breath rather than the thousand things that want to run through your mind.
Connect with others
Remember that study by AARP, suggesting that individuals providing elderly care can actually be healthier overall than their non-caregiver counterparts? The caveat is that this will only be true if the caregiver has a community support group, so be proactive about finding your support group quickly! This could include in-home assistance programs, church groups, online support groups, adult day care programs, or volunteer groups. With all this help, you can organize a support team to draw on when you need some extra help or just need to get away.
After you’ve connected with others, you’ll have access to all the information you could need about your loved one’s problem and what can be done to alleviate the condition and/or prepare for the future. Fear and worry, both negative emotions that increase feelings of stress, can be greatly alleviated by understanding what is to come and how to deal with it. Knowing where to go for the independent senior living information you need, when you need it, is another benefit of getting connected.
Regular physical exercise for the caregiver is important, not just for the caregiver’s well-being, but also for the aging loved one. The benefit of exercise for seniors is well documented, but should be used in moderation and under the supervision of a medical professional. For the caregiver, strenuous activity can help the body process stress hormones in a more positive direction, while encouraging the production of more positive ‘happy’ hormones in the brain. This doesn’t have to be a dreaded activity that you force yourself to do for at least 10 minutes a day. Choose something you enjoy – swimming, walking, gardening or jogging.
Make time for yourself
When you’re caring for seniors on top of your normal responsibilities, it’s easy to dedicate all of your time to taking care of the various needs of your loved ones – the one needing care as well as the rest of your family. From the moment you wake up until the second you fall asleep, you’re helping someone else with something they need. Be sure to schedule time for yourself, time to spend with friends, and most importantly, time to laugh. Far from detracting from the services you provide your loved one, ensuring you continue to enjoy life and stay connected to friends and fun can alleviate some of the guilt and frustration your loved one feels at depending on you for their needs. Again, it doesn’t need to be much. Even 30 minutes a week can do wonders for your stress levels.