April 17, 2013

Four Ways to Manage Stress as a Caregiver

Caring for an elderly or sick loved one is a difficult and stressful job, physically and emotionally. At some point, caregivers need to admit they cannot do everything and need to focus on themselves as well as their loved one. Here are four ways to manage stress during this demanding time in a caregiver’s life and overcome the feeling of helplessness.

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1. Exercise Daily

Studies have shown that a minimum of 30 minutes of elevated heart-rate exercise daily will reduce stress and help a person sleep better at night. Take at least a half hour a day for yourself. Go for a brisk walk or bike ride outside in the fresh air. Not only does the fresh air and exercise help with stress, but sunshine can also have a positive effect emotionally and physically.

2. Enjoy a Healthy Diet

Eating a well-balanced diet daily will help give you the extra energy you need to care for yourself as well as your loved one.

3. Respect your limits

Humans are imperfect, we cannot do everything all day, every day. There will be times when you may think, this is just too difficult. When that is the case, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Call a friend or neighbor to take a shift to care for your elderly or sick loved one or split the duties with your spouse. If you’re afraid of being a burden on others, there are plenty of professional caretakers that can perform in-home care. Help is one of the biggest ways to help reduce the caregiver’s stress.

4. Take some time for yourself

Take a little bit of time each day to focus on you. Get a haircut, a massage or lie down in a dark room with low, relaxing music playing and simply breathe. A few minutes to yourself can be very refreshing and helpful for stress-management.

As a caregiver, you may feel helpless at times. Just remember, there is always help available and it is OK to be a little selfish and take thirty minutes for yourself to recharge.