10 Stress-Relieving Techniques For Caregivers
Being a caregiver can take many forms. May it be an elderly parent, a disabled relative, or a child experiencing difficulties, the effect on your own health is the same. Constant stress caring for another can cause headaches, insomnia, and high blood pressure, to name a few medical issues, making it important for any caregiver to take time to relieve their anxieties and reset their mind for another day.
Here are 10 stress-relieving techniques for caregivers that reduce anxiety, promote awareness of their own health, and encourage taking time to calm the mind when under frequent stress.
1. Get on a Schedule
Stress interrupts sleep, impedes our thoughts, and causes intolerance of otherwise manageable behavior, but don’t reach for the coffee! Caffeine stimulates our fight-flight response, inducing irritability and anxiety. Instead, try a sleep schedule.
Sleep scheduling is effective and can be achieved with a simple change in routine; get up and go to bed at the same time every day, despite how you slept. You may struggle to maintain it to begin with, but as your body adjusts, you’ll drift off easier at night.
Mindfulness is the appreciation of self, of acknowledging your thoughts and feelings regardless of if they are positive or negative, without allowing them to dictate our response. Emotions are inevitable but acknowledging and letting them go can bring peace to a cluttered mind.
Likewise, gratitude is the appreciation of the little gifts we often neglect in life; it can be as small as a child’s first smile, or as big as upgrading a wheelchair, but it is important to take note of the occurrences and appreciate the pleasure they bring. Keeping a gratitude diary can also remind us there are brighter days to come when we’re struggling in the present.
4. Accept Help
It’s easy to get bogged down with responsibility and dedication, forgetting we have people who care about us who want to help us cope. When family or a friend offers to help so you can catch up with chores or take a nap, accept it gratefully; and you’ll feel better for the reprieve.
5. Get Active
Exercise has a plethora of benefits, including increased blood flow, heart health, endorphin (the “happy chemical”) release, physical tension release, to name a few.
Taking time to exercise in any form stimulates the brain, refreshes your oxygen levels, boosts your mood, and makes you more likely to sleep well. You can also listen to music or podcasts while you work out, adding a layer of entertainment.
6. Take Time for Friends
Friends care and will gladly talk about anything and everything if you engage them. Ask family or hire a caregiver and take some time to be yourself. Walk a new trail or meet for a picnic. Do something fun and catch up. You’ll return home refreshed and ready to face challenges.
7. Unburden Your Mind
When it feels like there’s too much to worry about, but nothing to ease it, something you can do is a brain-dump. Write everything down — financial concerns, health concerns, medications and follow-up appointments, then put the list away for another day. The act of transcribing worries and placing them out of sight can ease the burden on your thoughts, helping relieve stress.
8. Look After Yourself
Forgetting to treat yourself well is easy when you’re busy focusing on another, but it’s important to take time every day to care for ourselves. It can be a hot cup of tea, a chapter of a book, or a bath with your favorite salts. Carve out an hour just for you. You deserve it.
9. Do Something Creative
Creativity fuels the mind, but also distracts it. Doing something creative like painting, trying new recipes in the kitchen or needlework takes great focus, and can be an enjoyable, stress-relieving hobby. Not to mention you’re creating something unique (or delicious) in the process.
10. Stay Up To Date
Dependents with chronic illnesses, life-threatening diseases, or handicaps can be difficult to care for without an overarching worry for the future. Staying up to date with research, treatments, and advice regarding finances, assistance, and management skills leaves you confident in your future and your abilities, which can melt the stress away.
–by Katherine Rundell
Photos – Pexels