Finding a Stress-Relieving Technique that is Right for You
Whether you’re a paid or unpaid caregiver for a person with disabilities or an elderly loved one, experiencing a great deal of stress from caregiving is not uncommon. In fact, a 2015 report from the National Alliance for Caregiving/AARP Caregiving in America stated that approximately 34 million Americans provided unpaid care to a senior adult over a 12-month period, and almost half of all family caregivers stated they felt “somewhat stressed”.
You may be wondering: How can I prevent, or help reduce stress when caring for my aging relative?
There are different methods and solutions that are effective at reducing stress, but finding them and discovering which ones work best can seem overwhelming at first. Stress can be brought on from a wide variety of various stressors, and what may work one time to relieve that stress for you may not work another time. Here is a great place to start: We bring you five things you can try to relieve your stress as a caregiver.
1. Take a Break
It sounds overly simple at first, but surprisingly, a majority of caregivers underestimate the value and benefit of simply taking a little break. Sometimes it is best to walk away for five minutes to compose yourself and let your mind relax. Whether you linger at the water fountain or sink to drink your water, take a quick five-minute walk, or listen to a favorite song of yours, this gives your brain a chance to focus on something else for a brief amount of time. Doing small activities that don’t or can’t stress you out can help lower the amount of stress you may be feeling overall. Taking these breaks throughout your day can help keep you energized mentally and physically.
2. Breathing Techniques
Focused breathing techniques that call for deep, slow breaths can prove to be an effective way to help lower stress levels. Oftentimes, people are surprised at how well this technique works. To begin, draw in air through your nose by taking a deep breath. Then breathe out through your mouth moderately. Repeat these steps about three times in total. Slowing your breathing can relax your mind and slow your heart rate, encouraging a calming sense to flow throughout the body.
3. Sometimes Laughter is the Best Medicine
Not only does laughing help better your overall mood, it can also relieve stress that has built up. A study conducted by Loma Linda University presented the fact that humor has benefits that are beneficial clinically. Some of those benefits include:
- Soothe tension. Laughing can stimulate circulation and improves muscle relaxation. These can help reduce the physical symptoms of stress.
- Organ stimulation. While laughing, you’re taking in more oxygen-rich air which stimulates your lungs, muscles, and your heart.
- Relieving and activating the body’s natural response to stress. Laughing will release endorphins in your brain, further enhancing your overall mood.
Laughing is a great way to forget your troubles, even for a little while. In doing so, your outlook and attitude for the remainder of the day will be better for it. If you have any opportunity to laugh, take it. It just might be the thing you need!
Sometimes looking at the positives in life is harder than it seems. We don’t often think about the benefits looking on the “bright side” can have. Making an effort to take a second and think about the things you’re grateful for in life can change your perspective and help alleviate stress. However, oftentimes it can be difficult to reflect on and name all of the things you’re thankful for when you feel overwhelmed, so here are some things you can do to bring gratitude into your stressful day:
- Surprise someone with a kind act.
- Make a donation to an organization you are grateful for.
- Keep a gratitude journal.
- Send someone a thank-you note that is handwritten, or a thank-you text/email.
- Watch a video that inspires you to think about the good in the world.
- Post quotes or images that help remind you to be grateful around the house and the workplace.
5. Getting up and Moving
One of the best ways to relieve stress is exercising. While working out, your body releases endorphins that give you a feeling of positivity and it can make you feel satisfaction. This feeling of positivity will leave you with a less stress, and the best part is it doesn’t take a long time! John Ratey, a Harvard Medical School professor says that only two minutes of exercise is enough to change your mood if you increase your heart rate. “Anything from squats to jumping jacks supplies a surge of neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin – the same targets as antidepressants.”
No matter your age, being a caregiver means you are subjected to high levels of stress. You’re taking care of someone else, along with taking care of you and perhaps other members of your family, like children. Added on, you may also have the stress of your job, social life, and everything in between. One can see how easy it can be to be overwhelmed and stressed, so it is important to find a method that helps lower your overall stress that fits you.
Something that caregivers often stress over is what their loved one’s situation is. With StaySmartCare’s senior care technology, caregivers can check in with nurses and check on loved ones’ activities and status via their mobile devices, even if they live across the country. The senior, however, doesn’t need any type of device, like a bracelet or necklace. All of the equipment is discreetly located throughout the home, not on the person. The goal is to impose as little as possible on the senior’s daily life and put the caregiver’s mind at ease knowing that their loved one has 24/7 monitoring in case a situation should arise and that they will be notified if there is a concern.
In order for a caregiver to care for others, they must first care for themselves. To learn about how our at-home care services can help relieve much of the stress from your life or other caregivers’ lives, contact us today, and remember to take care of yourself.