Caregiver Stress Management

April 14, 2020
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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As a caregiver, you’re responsible for taking care of loved ones, answering questions, and juggling tasks while remaining put together and positive. It’s a lot to handle, and sometimes the stress of the day can be overwhelming — especially amidst a global pandemic like COVID-19. You know that stress can be detrimental to your health, but stress is an everyday part of your life. So, what can you do to reduce and manage your stress?

How Stress Impacts Caregiver Health

From the highs and lows at work to lingering worries at home, stress can play a role in your daily life. But, how does it impact your health? In the short term, stress can cause:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension and pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in your sex drive
  • Stomach pain (upset stomach)
  • Sleeping problems

These short term effects can alter your mood and behavior — causing you to over or undereat, abuse drugs or alcohol, withdraw or lash out at loved ones, and exercise less often. While in short bursts, these effects may not seem detrimental, over time, they can result in worsening conditions. Long-term effects of stress include:

  • Mental health problems
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Obesity and other eating disorders
  • Menstrual problems
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Skin and hair problems
  • Gastrointestinal problems

10 Ways You Can Manage Stress as a Caregiver

1. Exercise

When you’re feeling stressed, it may be difficult to find the motivation to exercise, but even jogging for 15 minutes in the fresh air can make all the difference. If you don’t have time to exercise for 30 minutes to an hour, break it up throughout the day. Otherwise, find a time that works for you and make it a priority in your day to help you let off steam and clear your mind.

2. Read a Book

Reading can help you travel to faraway places and live a different life — all with the power of your imagination. Not only can reading help take your mind off things out of your control, but it can provide relief to an overactive mind. Whether you’re reading a fantasy novel or learning about a new place from your favorite non-fiction writer, find time to read for 15 to 30 minutes a day.

3. Listen to Music

For some people, music has a way of controlling their emotions. Upbeat music can help energize you, while slower sultry tones can help you relax. Find the music that works best for you and listen while you run errands, exercise, or to help quiet your mind before bed. Listening to music can help you take back control of your day and ease your mind.

4. Meditate

When you’re running around providing assistance to someone in need, it can be difficult to take a moment to ground yourself. By setting aside 30 minutes of meditation, you can help control your breathing and collect your thoughts. Whether it’s listening to the wind blow in your backyard or listening to the beating of your own heart, take deep slow breaths and empty your mind. This will help erase your worries and reposition what matters.

5. Create a List

If you’re a visual learner, sometimes it’s easier to focus on what needs to get done by creating a list. Outline a daily schedule, from the tasks required to provide adequate care to what errands need to get done on which days. By creating a list, you can put on paper everything you need to get done — eliminating the risk of forgetting things and easing your mind of what you need to remember.

6. Eat a Balanced Diet

When stressed and strapped for time, it can be easy to justify pulling through the drive-thru at lunch or drinking more than the recommended amount at night. But, eating the wrong foods or skipping meals entirely can be detrimental to your health. Instead, plan your meals ahead of time and make sure you’re eating a well-balanced diet of leafy greens, vegetables, and proteins. By eating well, you’ll have the energy you need to provide quality care.

7. Discover What Motivates You

Caring for someone is extremely difficult, especially if the role of caring for a loved one came unexpectedly. That’s why it’s important that you find something that motivates you. Is it the feeling of being loved or the sweet reward of a glass of wine at the end of the day? Whatever motivates you, focus on that aspect and remind yourself of it to help you get through the day.

8. Take Time for Yourself

When your world revolves around caring for someone else, you sometimes forget to care for yourself. Reward yourself with a manicure from time to time, see a movie by yourself, or treat yourself to a nice dinner. Find what makes you happy, and don’t forget to do it occasionally. Are you feeling sick? Get the rest you need to feel better.

9. Find a Local Support Group

Sometimes the stress of caring for someone comes from feeling alone. You think nobody understands what you’re going through or how you may be feeling. But, that’s not true. There are other parents or caregivers who have likely dealt with exactly what you’re going through. Find your local support group and attend meetings or outings. It could be just what you need to relieve stress.

10. Ask for Help

In addition to finding a local caregiver support group, don’t be afraid to ask your family or friends for help. Need to get away for an evening? Find someone you can trust to watch over your loved ones while you take time for yourself. You should also recognize when caring for a loved one is too difficult. Sometimes the best way to relieve your stress is by sharing the hardship with another caregiver. Hire a home healthcare provider to assist you with the daily duties and help provide balance to your life. You’ll gain back time to focus on yourself or other members of your household.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care in Florida

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a loved one. That’s why our team of skilled professionals at Care Options for Kids are here to help.

Our home care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent caregivers to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or a loved one are considering Pediatric Home Health Care Services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.