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Help for Caregivers Blog

Keep up with some of the latest helpful information regarding caregiving from reliable sources.

6 Stress-Busting Strategies for Caregivers

5/4/2022 12:00:00 AM

characterized brain in a zen pose

Although it’s important and often gratifying, caring for others is stressful. Over time, it can take a toll on body and mind, heart and soul; on personal finances, family relationships and work life. It can erode your immune system and increase susceptibility to disease, depression or hospitalization.

Like other caregivers who are coping with stress, you most likely try to keep your life in balance and do things to take care of yourself. What are the ways you usually handle stress? There are lots of sensible self-care practices that work. If you’re looking for some reliable and effective strategies, try some of these 6 stress-busters:

  1. Care for yourself as you care for others: “Put your oxygen mask on first, before trying to help others.” We’ve all heard this good advice but we often overlook it. We prioritize others’ needs, deny, diminish, or postpone addressing our own needs. This is a prescription for exhaustion! Self-care starts with adopting a mindset that admits our needs and acknowledges self-care as a wellness strategy. It’s not selfish! We can’t help if we can’t function!

  2. Avoid stress numbing behaviors: Smoking, drinking, eating junk food or over-eating, excessive shopping, TV or Internet use briefly decrease the discomfort of stress. They don’t solve problems and can create new ones. Look for healthy pleasures instead.

  3. Acknowledge that you’re human, not a caregiving machine: More like an ecosystem than a computer, you don’t plug into an electrical socket to access continuous, uninterrupted energy. No, you run on living energy that comes from within and cycles through periods of high and low vitality. Take a break when you’re tired. Build respite into your regular routine; a few minutes; an hour, an evening, a weekend or longer time away…whatever it takes to refresh and keep you well.

  4. Conserve your energy: Don’t squander this valuable resource. Define what’s important and what’s not. Let go of what’s unimportant. Stay away from toxic people or situations that upset or drain you. Seek out those who empower and build your confidence. Pace yourself.

  5. Replenish your energy: Breathe deeply, for at least three minutes every day to lower your heart rate, anxiety and muscle tension. Regular deep breathing seems simple, but it really works! Clear your mind of worry with things like meditation, prayer, journaling, craft work, or communing with nature. Put “rest time” on your to-do list.

  6. Cultivate community: Connect with others in conversation and enjoyable activities. Reach out when feeling lonely. Don’t always try to do things yourself. Ask reliable, concerned friends and family to lend a hand. Avoid people who make you feel guilty for needing help, those who can’t or won’t deliver. Graciously accept what’s offered. Say, “Thank you.”

What about you?

To stay healthy and manage the stress of caregiving, incorporate these six strategies into your life. Whatever you do to relieve your stress will benefit both you and your care receiver. As you do so much for others, remember to take good care of yourself, too…Jane