By: Danielle Rita
Caregiving is a thoughtful, necessary, and selfless act of kindness shared by many Americans. AARP understands the hard work and dedication required, and the massive amounts of stress and anxiety that come along with the job. Managing and dealing with stress can be as frustrating and painful as the task of caregiving.
For most of us, stress is an everyday occurrence. On the plus side, it can keep us alert and on our toes. But stress can lead to numerous health conditions ranging anywhere from heart disease to depression.
We want you to give yourself a big pat on the back for a job-well-done and we kindly request you take some extra time this month to care for yourself and reduce some of that built up stress.
Here are a few simple tips to reduce and cope with stress:
- Educate Yourself on Caregiver’s DiseaseSeek reliable sources of information regarding diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Set realistic expectations for yourself and the care receiver based on your understanding of the disease.
- Practice Self-CareTo avoid care givers “burn-out” add guilt free breaks from caregiving to the top of your to-do list. Attend to your own needs for once! Make sure you are getting enough sleep and exercise. Don’t underestimate the power of humor; allow yourself to exert a good laugh. Reward yourself, and participate in an enjoyable hobby or activity.
- Sometimes You Just Have To Learn To Let GoSimplify your lifestyle to preserve time and energy for the most important daily tasks. Accept that you may not be able to do things the way you used to.
- Practice Stress-Reduction Techniques including: deep-breaths, progressive relaxation, channel imagery, and meditation. Even if it is only for five minutes, meditating will help you keep a clear mind throughout the day.
- Don’t Be Ashamed to Ask for Help.We are only human; everyone needs a helping hand sometimes. Present family and friends with task-specific and time-specific ways they can assist you. Explore other resources and support within the community.
Check out caregiving tips from Amy Goyer, AARP's Caregiving expert, on her "Taking Care" youtube video stream http://www.youtube.com/amygoyer, or click here for additional AARP resources on caregiving.