Caring for another person is stressful. Whether you’re the main caregiver or one of several, helping someone who is ill or recovering can exact an emotional toll. In fact, one American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) study found that about one in three caregivers rate their stress level as “high”.
Try These Tips
The stress you may feel as a caregiver can frustrate and exhaust you. But there are plenty of techniques you can use to manage your stress. Here are our favorites from great resources like the AARP, the Mayo Clinic and others.
- Eat right. Take care of your own physical needs with a nutritious diet, even when you’re under a lot of stress. At times like those, it’s easy to skip meals, snack, or overindulge in alcohol. But your body needs good food, eaten regularly.
- Get enough sleep. When you have a lot to do and think about, your sleep may suffer. But your body and brain need time to recharge. The quality and amount of sleep you get affects your mood, energy level, concentration and overall functioning. If you can’t sleep well at night, daytime napping is okay.
- Exercise if you can. Physical activity pumps up your “feel-good” endorphins and refocuses your mind on your body’s movements, releasing stress and improving your mood. Virtually any physical activity works: walking, jogging, gardening, housecleaning, biking, swimming or anything else that gets you moving. Find time, even if it means asking someone else to provide care while you take a break.
- Try meditation. You’ll focus your attention, squeezing out thoughts that may be causing stress. Meditation creates a sense of calm, peace and balance that benefits both mind and body. Plus, you can meditate almost anywhere, from a doctor’s office to a bus ride.
- Laugh. The Mayo Clinic says that laughter lightens your emotional load and actually causes physical changes in your body. It enhances your oxygen intake, relieves stress and soothes tension.
- Start writing a journal. Putting your thoughts and feelings into written words can be a good release for pent-up emotions. Every CaringBridge Site comes complete with a ready-to-use Journal feature.
- Ask for help. Make a to-do list and recruit others to pitch in to help with meal planning, trips to the pharmacy, walking the dog, watering plants…everything that goes with your caregiver role. You’ll find an easy-to-use online Planner on every CaringBridge Site, too.
Find More Suggestions
Please Share Your Favorite Stress-Relief Tips
We’d love to find out how you relieve stress. You can tell us (and thousands of CaringBridge readers) about any tips and techniques you’ve used successfully, and what advice you’d give to other caregivers. Comment with your ideas and stories below.