You can boost your mood and discover ways to ease your stress
Exercises to gives stress relief for caregivers
Caring for a loved one strains even the most resilient people. If you’re a caregiver, take steps to preserve your own health and well-being. When we’re exhausted, stressed, and starting down a negative emotional spiral, it can be easy to overlook the things that are going right. Caregiving is an incredibly stressful job. That’s why it’s important to have a variety of stress relief techniques ready. That way, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from whether you’re at home, in line at the pharmacy, or taking a quick break in a quiet corner. To add to your stress relief options, we found a helpful (and free) 10 minute exercise that’s easy to do no matter where you are.
As the population ages, more caregiving is being provided by people who aren’t health care professionals. About 1 in 3 adults in the United States provides care to other adults as informal caregivers. A caregiver is anyone who provides help to another person in need, such as an ill spouse or partner, a disabled child, or an aging relative. However, family members who are actively caring for an older adult often don’t self-identify as a “caregiver.” Recognizing this role can help caregivers receive the support they need.
Caregiving is rewarding but stressful
Caregiving can have many rewards. For most caregivers, being there when a loved one needs you is a core value and something you wish to provide. But a shift in roles and emotions is almost certain. It is natural to feel angry, frustrated, exhausted, alone or sad. Caregiver stress — the emotional and physical stress of caregiving — is common. People who experience caregiver stress can be vulnerable to changes in their own health. Risk factors for caregiver stress include:
- Being female
- Having fewer years of formal education
- Living with the person you are caring for
- Social isolation
- Having depression
- Financial difficulties
- Higher number of hours spent caregiving
- Lack of coping skills and difficulty solving problems
- Lack of choice in being a caregiver
Signs of Caregiver Stress
As a caregiver, you may be so focused on your loved one that you don’t realize that your own health and well-being are suffering. Watch for these signs of caregiver stress:
- Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
- Feeling tired often
- Getting too much sleep or not enough sleep
- Gaining or losing weight
- Becoming easily irritated or angry
- Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Feeling sad
- Having frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems
- Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications
Too much stress, especially over a long time, can harm your health. As a caregiver, you’re more likely to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. In addition, you may not get enough sleep or physical activity, or eat a balanced diet — which increases your risk of medical problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.
The caregiver who works outside the home
Nearly 60% of caregivers work outside of the home. If you work outside the home and you’re a caregiver, you may begin to feel overwhelmed. If you do, think about taking leave from your job for a period of time. Employees covered under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act may be able to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year to care for relatives. Ask your human resources office about options for unpaid leave.
You aren’t alone
If you’re like many caregivers, you have a hard time asking for help. Unfortunately, this attitude can lead to feeling isolated, frustrated and even depressed. Rather than struggling on your own, take advantage of local resources for caregivers. To get started, check out the Eldercare Locator or contact your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) to learn about services in your community. You can find your local AAA online or in the government section of your telephone directory.
- Accept help.
- Focus on what you are able to provide.
- Set realistic goals.
- Get connected. .
- Join a support group. .
- Seek social support. .
- Set personal health goals.
- See your doctor.
Ways to be a more optimistic Caregiver
Look for the Good- In order to keep the negative thoughts at bay, try making a list each day of things that are good in your life. When problems loom large, look for the small bright spots in your life like a cool breeze, sunshine or a nap.
Speak Kindly- to Yourself and cut your self some slack! “Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else,” recommends a mayoclinic.org article on positive thinking. Turning off the negative dialogue in your head can be a powerful tool to harness optimism. For example, instead of thinking, “This will never work,” you might say to yourself, “I’ll try again a different way.”
Lean on Positive People
Surrounding yourself with positive friends and family is helpful when trying to stay upbeat yourself. “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” said the late Jim Rohn, entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker. Stay connected with these people by getting together regularly in person or online.
Find Happiness through Health -A healthy diet and exercise can go a long way to improve mood and overall wellness. Exercise and good nutrition can reduce stress, increase energy, and foster good sleep habits.
Remember You Are Doing Your Best-Stay positive and give yourself grace. Even if you lose your temper, that doesn’t detract from all of the positive that you’ve done for your aging loved one. Remember that you are showing up every day and making a difference.
Laugh More-Not only does laughter make you feel good, its positive effects stay with you long after the chuckling subsides. Research shows that laughter lowers stress hormones, relaxes muscles, improves mood, and eases anxiety.
Take Time for Yourself-Whether it’s a quick walk around the block or meeting a friend for lunch, taking a break from caregiving duties and focusing on self-care is important for your health and wellbeing. Look to a family member, friend, or professional caregiver to give you a few hours to yourself so you can recharge and maintain an optimistic outlook.
Caregiving can be rewarding, but no caregiver breezes through the journey without feeling some degree of negativity and hopelessness creeping in. By following tips to stay positive, you may be able to transition your outlook to one of optimism and gratitude for even the smallest positive things in life.
It may be hard to imagine leaving your loved one in someone else’s care, but taking a break can be one of the best things you do for yourself — as well as the person you’re caring for. Most communities have some type of respite care available, such as:
- In-home respite. Health care aides come to your home to provide companionship, nursing services or both.
- Adult care centers and programs. Some centers provide care for both older adults and young children, and the two groups may spend time together.
- Short-term nursing homes. Some assisted living homes, memory care homes and nursing homes accept people needing care for short stays while caregivers are away.
Companies like McGregor, which provides a break from the stresses of caregiving will help you focus on more blessings in your life- with just a short reprieve.
ref:/Mayo Clinic Press
ref/Positive thoughts for Caregivers