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Tips for Caregivers to Manage Stress

Goldfish in tank

Adopt healthier ways to cope with the stress from caregiving.

It’s no secret that caregiving is stressful. Caregivers also manage stress in less healthy ways. For instance, caregivers are more likely to smoke to help cope with the pressure of caring for a loved one. Sometimes caregivers do things to relieve stress that end up causing more worry. If you shop as a way to unwind, you may avoid opening your credit card statements.

So, how can you relieve stress without causing more harm? Here are two techniques. These can help you change the way you react to stressful events.

Change Your Perspective

When you are happy, a minor setback might not upset you. But when you are tense, a small mistake can seem like a big deal. Say you forget a doctor’s appointment. A worried caregiver might tell herself, “I’m a bad caregiver.” This type of thinking is dangerous. It can lead to depression. When you change how you look at your thoughts, you can respond with a healthier message.  For instance,  you might tell yourself, “Everyone makes mistakes. Forgetting one appointment does not make me a bad caregiver.”

Relaxation Techniques

The most important thing to remember is that small changes can go a long way. Try to find 15 minutes for yourself each day.

  • Practice deep breathing meditation. Take long, deep breaths through the belly, rather than short, shallow breaths from your upper chest.
  • Imagine yourself in a peaceful place. What does this place look like? Smell like? How do you feel? Fill in as much detail as you can.
  • Find a diversion. This activity can be anything that takes your attention away from worries and quiets your mind.
  • Get a pet. Some studies have shown owning pets can reduce stress. Watching a fish tank can be very relaxing.
  • Practice yoga or tai chi. Both help with flexibility and strength. They also use deep breathing techniques that can lower stress levels.

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