What are some ways to combat caregiver stress? It is a problem that many of us face, often every day. If we allow it, it can control and discourage us. Even if you can't utilize all of these tips, try to practice as many of them as you can. Although this page is targeted towards those who care for their loved ones, healthcare workers such as RNs and CNAs may still benefit from reading it.
Acknowledging you need help is the first, and arguably the most important, step in reducing caregiver stress. We often just want to bottle it all up inside and not accept any help from anyone. Whether this be out of pride or out of fear that someone can't take care of our loved ones as well as we can ourselves. Whatever the reason, it isn't healthy to do everything on your own. We all need assistance from time to time.
This one may sound silly at first, but many people expect themselves and their situations to always align perfectly. This just isn't realistic. No matter how hard we try, we are human and we will make mistakes. Negative things are going to happen in life and are often out of our control.
Even the circumstances that are under your control are not always going to work out the way you want them to and that's okay. The sooner you accept this and move on from your past mistakes, as well as the inevitable future ones, the sooner you can remove a large portion of the baggage weighing you down.
Respite care is a common way to clear your head and replenish the mind. Respite care simply means taking a break from your duties while someone else takes care of your patient. This isn't always the easiest or cheapest solution, but should be done whenever possible.
If you can entrust a family member or friend to take care of your patient, that's great. However, many people don't have that luxury, but there are other options. Long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or senior living homes will often temporarily accept patients for this very reason. Check with facilities in your area for more details. Depending on the circumstances, a medical alert device by electronic caregiver may provide some peace of mind while taking a break.
Take time every day to do something you enjoy that doesn't involve your patient. Everyone deserves to have some "me time" even if it is just for a few minutes. This could be anything from taking a warm relaxing bath, to a walk around the neighborhood. Just do whatever relaxes you. Make it something you look forward to every day and don't skip out on it.
Talk to someone that you can trust about the caregiver stress you are experiencing. If you don't have someone to share your struggles with, it can make you feel empty and alone. The person doesn't have to give you advice or even be a caregiver themselves. All they have to do is listen. Just make sure they are willing to do so. This can be anyone from a family member, friend, or even a therapist if your budget allows it.
Joining a support group is another way to reduce caregiver stress. When you see others stressing over the same things you do, it helps you realize that you are not alone. Even if you already know there are countless other caregivers struggling out there, meeting up with them and sharing knowledge and experiences can be immensely helpful.
Just do a quick search online for these groups in your area. Even if you have to drive out of town, the benefits from it might be worth the trip. If nothing else, there are plenty of resources online, such as the one you are on right now, that is willing to offer advice and support to people all around the world.
Meditation is another common tactic that is so simple, anyone can do it. This simply means to just sit down in a quiet room, close your eyes, and concentrate on taking slow deep breaths. The goal is to clear your head of thoughts of stress and just relax your mind. Even if you can only do this for a few minutes every day, it can help melt the stress right off of you.
Exercise is something that takes a little more self discipline. It isn't easy to have a consistent exercise routine, especially when you are already tired and pressed for time. However, it has been proven time and time again to reduce stress. It doesn't have to be extra strenuous. Something as simple as walking or riding a bike is better than doing nothing at all.
This is perhaps the most difficult suggestion of them all. Our circumstances vary greatly from person to person. It is common for schedules to be so strenuous that sleep seems almost impossible. But as difficult as it may be to accomplish, you should always strive to get an adequate amount of sleep.
The amount of recommended sleep is hard to determine because our bodies are often vastly different from each other. A good rule is to just get as much rest as you can, even if that includes naps. If your patient takes naps, that might be the perfect opportunity for you to do the same. This is of course assuming you are working at home and aren't getting paid to watch your patient at all times.
Laughing seems like such a silly tactic to reduce caregiver stress, but that's the point. Your mind gets so caught up in all the negativity that you forget how to enjoy the little things in life. Listen to a joke, watch a comedic show you enjoy, or call up a friend who knows how to tickle your funny bone. Don't be afraid to let out a chuckle even when everything around you is looking grim. It is said that laughter is the best medicine.