Caregivers Can Combat Stress This April
What do you stress or worry about? Finances? Relationships? Doctor’s appointments? Day to day living and schedules? For many caregivers, taking care of a loved one in need makes the list of stressors very long – it could go on and on.
Though stress is a normal part of life, at what point does the stress of caring for a senior loved one become too much to handle? If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed more often than not, it may be time to take a step back and make a change in your life.
What is stress? What are the negative effects of stress in a caregiver’s life? How can we combat it successfully?
Fortunately, there are health initiatives in place to help us deal with our stresses, and connect us to others who can guide us through these difficult times. Stress Awareness Month is in April, for example, and is a great time for us to learn about and overcome stress, so we can be there for ourselves and for our loved ones.
For the entire month of April, health care professionals around the country, including Dayton elder care providers, are dedicating their time and energy to combat this physically and emotionally draining condition.
Since 1992, The Health Resource Network has sponsored this effort to raise awareness about the causes, effects, and effective management of stress. And though no one is exempt from feeling stress at one point or another, after we know how to identify the stressors in our lives, we are better equipped and prepared to manage it.
What Is Stress and How Can You Spot It?
Whether you’ve experienced a hard week at work, family troubles, financial hardships, or just have too much on your plate, stress can be harmful to us if we are not careful. It is hard to find someone who has lived a stress-free life.
Although it’s difficult to scientifically define, stress can be described as the body’s natural response to tension or demand. Its effects can take many forms such as headaches, sleep disturbances, changes in appetite, and upset stomach to name a few.
Family caregivers are no strangers to stress, which is why Stress Awareness Month is especially important for them.
Not only do they have to deal with the challenges in their own life, but they take on the extra workload of dealing with the life of their loved one.
Doctor’s appointments, medication, finances, family relations as well as physical, emotional and mental health become too much to juggle when they become the primary caregiver.
When these are not taken care of, your load can overwhelm you and lead to serious physical and emotional problems. For caregivers, this can result in a condition known as burnout.
If you find yourself struggling to stay on top of everything you need to do, or you feel like you’re drowning in a sea of “to-do” tasks, you may already be experiencing burnout. Now is the time to learn how to manage stress properly, so you can better care for your body and mind.
How to Manage It
You can take part in Stress Awareness Month in April (or anytime of the year you are feeling overwhelmed) by relaxing and implementing some useful practices for managing stress.
- Breathe – This is one of the simplest yet overlooked methods for stress management. Deep breathing has been medically proven to reduce stress almost instantly. Slowly inhale through your nose, hold your breath for a few seconds, and then slowly exhale through your mouth. Repeat as necessary. You can do this whenever it is the most convenient for you – even if it’s just for 5 minutes when you have a moment to yourself.
- Stay Active – Whether you spend time at the gym for an hour, take a walk around the block, or simply opt to take the stairs instead of the elevator, physical activity has also been proven to help manage stress. If you don’t exercise already, now is a good time to start. Aim for at least 20 minutes every day, and try implementing something fun that you love like dancing, swimming, sports, etc.
- Sleep Well – Maintaining a regular sleep schedule every night is a great way to reset your body and mind. Anywhere from 7-9 hours can help you feel refreshed and rejuvenated. Try to avoid staying up late at night, and if you suffer from sleep apnea or insomnia, contact your doctor. They can help you get back on a normal sleeping routine.
- Get Help – It’s important to take some time for yourself every now and again to rest and regroup. Stay connected with friends and family members, let them know how you are doing, and let them help. Asking a family member for extra help, or hiring Dayton respite care will give you the time you need to mend, all while ensuring your loved one is cared for.
Please, don’t disregard your needs. When stress comes around (and it will), the most significant thing to remember is that you and your health matter too. If your health fails or falters in some way, this can affect your performance as a caregiver, ultimately affecting your loved one’s health as well.
If your stress levels have started to affect your body or alter your health, contact your doctor today, so you can get your mind and body back into top working condition.
Implementing these stress relieving strategies can help you cope with the daily struggles that come with caregiving. Combating stress effectively can improve your physical health as well as mental your health. It can also give you the strength you need to care for your loved ones better, and longer, while lowering the risk of burnout.
For more information about stress or Stress Awareness Month, talk to your healthcare provider or visit the websites stressawarenessmonth.org or stress.org.
You may also turn to Home Care Assistance of Dayton to help manage caregiver stress. If you need extra help caring for your loved one, or may be in need of some respite, we provide specialized stroke, dementia, and Alzheimer’s home care in Dayton to give family caregivers the time they need to regroup. Our experienced caregivers help seniors with everything from grooming and dressing to diet and exercise.
Learn more when you call (937) 353-7997 and talk to a compassionate Care Manager about schedule a complimentary consultation.
Need In Home Care for Your Love One?
Home Care Assistance of Dayton can help you or a loved one today.
Contact us now for a complimentary in-home or virtual assessment.