Family caregivers face a lot of stress. Many work full-time jobs and raise their own families on top of the responsibilities of looking after their aging parent. The demands of the job can take both a physical and mental toll on even the most resilient people, leaving them drained and exhausted. In order to be more patient and available, it’s important to keep caregiver stress within manageable boundaries. These tips reveal why it’s important for family caregivers to lower their stress levels and how to do so every day.
While a little stress is natural, too much can cause long-term problems. Prolonged exposure to stressful situations can leave caregivers more vulnerable to developing health issues. It can raise your blood pressure, lower the strength of your immune system, and lead to long-term diseases like heart disease or stroke. This demanding lifestyle can also interrupt sleep while causing irritability and headaches. Certain caregivers are at an exceptional risk of feeling stress – females, live-in caregivers and those with depression often have higher stress levels than others.
Caregiver stress can not only lead to illness, but it can also preoccupy your mind and lower your patience with whomever you’re caring for. It’s important to make sure you’re regulating your stress levels and identifying when you need to take a step back to look after yourself before others.
Signs of stress
Recognizing your own stress levels might be more difficult than you think, especially if you’re used to working through stress. Make sure you know how to spot the signs so you can take steps to lower your anxiety levels and take better care of yourself.
- Chronic fatigue, no matter how much sleep you get
- A constant pit in your stomach, or often feeling overwhelmed
- Losing interest in hobbies
- Muscle aches and tension
- Frequent colds and flu-like symptoms
How to lower caregiver stress levels
- Prioritize sleep. Sleep helps regulate your stress hormone levels, boosting mood and rejuvenating the brain. Whether it’s switching up your bedding, or finding a calming bedtime routine, there are a lot of different ways to help you get 7-9 hours of sleep a night and control your stress.
- Make a schedule. Caregiving can often come with a long list of overwhelming tasks. To keep your head clear, list your responsibilities and create a realistic hourly schedule in which you can accomplish them. Realize, however, that you might have to prioritize more important tasks.
- Find support. Remaining connected with others is a great way to reduce feelings of stress. Lean on family, friends and community groups to provide emotional support when you need it. If you still feel persistent stress, consider speaking with your doctor.
We understand how stressful family caregiving can be, but hopefully, these tips will help you learn to manage the demands of the job while remaining relaxed and happy.
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