As I mentioned in the previous post, becoming a caregiver is stressful business. Most research supports that caregivers feel unprepared for their caregiving role. Often they feel isolated, anxious, and depressed. An additional concern is maintaining adequate communication with the health care team and other available resources. This role is time-consuming and can be confusing.
You are so focused on taking care of your loved one and just getting through the day that you may not notice the toll it is taking until there are serious problems. It is vitally important that you care for YOURSELF during this period. If you don’t, stress will lead to caregiver fatigue which erodes your ability to care for your loved one as well. For a first-hand account of this, you might take a look at this post.
The first step to coping effectively with caregiver stress – and preventing fatigue – is to know the warning signs. Take a look at these Common Signs of Stress and evaluate how many apply to you. Once you can identify these signs, you can learn how your body responds. Then you can take appropriate steps to reduce the stress.
What Can I Do to Reduce Caregiver Stress in My Life?
Finding ways to reduce caregiver stress will help lessen the long-term emotional and physical toll. Tips for managing stress include:
- Keep a positive attitude. Believe in yourself.
- Accept that there are events you cannot control.
- Be assertive instead of aggressive. “Assert” your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, combative, or passive.
- Learn to relax.
- Exercise regularly. Your body can fight stress better when it is fit.
- Stop smoking.
- Limit yourself to moderate alcohol and caffeine intake.
- Set realistic goals and expectations.
- Get enough rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events.
- Don’t rely on alcohol or drugs to reduce stress.
- Learn to use stress management techniques and coping mechanisms, such as deep breathing or guided imagery. I will be talking more about stress management in an upcoming post. Keep a lookout for it – I’ll be sure to include some handy – and relaxing – resources for you!