10 Tips for Handling Stress While Caregiving

Now that you’ve added “caregiver” to your resume, handling stress is now more important than ever. You’ll enjoy better health and quality of life once you get stress under control.

Types of Stress

MedlinePlus defines three types of stress:

  • Routine: Your garden-variety stress caused by work and family responsibilities
  • Sudden Negative Changes: Divorce, losing a job, moving, or illness, for example
  • Trauma: Generally associated with emergencies, in which you fear for your life: accidents, natural disasters, war, etc.

You may experience all three at the same time as a caregiver, so it’s good to know in advance how to get quick relief.

Immediate Stress Relief

When handling stress means doing it now, these five techniques can help get the job done. Use your favorite methods several times a day.

  • Take at least three deep, slow breaths. You can do this anywhere.
  • MedicineNet suggests speaking more slowly than usual. Slowing down your speech allows you to think more clearly and gives the appearance of being in control.
  • Take a quick walk outside.
  • Eat a quick snack with a glass of water. Hunger and dehydration can manifest as jangled nerves. You might not realize that you need a refueling break until after you’ve had a snack.
  • Practice letting go. Yes, it’s easier said than done; you’ll notice it’s last on the list. Some people can “just let go,” but they say, “Practice makes perfect.”

Long-Term Stress Relief

As a caregiver, you’re taking care of others, but who’s taking care of you? Sometimes it’s left just to you. Try some of the following techniques until you find what works for you.

  1. The Mayo Clinic suggests meditation. Only a few minutes can restore calm and inner peace and help you focus on the present. An easy way to start is with guided meditation, or focusing on mental images of places or situations you find relaxing.
  2. The Mayo Clinic also suggests laughter. There’s a reason “they” say, “Laughter is the best medicine.” There are 1001+ hilarious YouTube videos, and you might start with some of the Carol Burnett sketches — like the one with Bob Newhart playing the dentist, which he improvised!
  3. Rant and rave with a friend. There’s nothing like a rant session with a close friend. You don’t have to turn that stiff upper lip into granite in the presence of a friend.
  4. Dance, dance, dance. Dig out some golden oldies and crank up the volume. It’s great exercise, and it’s bound to bring back great memories.
  5. Exercise a little each day. This doesn’t mean circuit training, but enjoyable exercise: biking, swimming, taking a walk, jumping on a rebounder – whatever you enjoy.

You shower each day to wash away the dirt; take some time to wash away the stress. Soon, you’ll be handling stress like a pro.

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