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7 Tips for Combating Stress in Caregivers

Caregiving is Stressful

Caregiving has difficult and challenging moments.  Many times you are isolated with the person for which you are caring.  Frustrating
episodes can escalate.  Here are some tips to help you cope and stay calm.

1.  Breathe deeply to a count of six (6) and then exhale to a count of six (6).  Do this for five minutes.  You will feel refreshed after you do
this.  It helps to engage your parasympathic nervous system which relaxes tense muscles.

2.  Go out in nature; take a walk in the park; appreciate the beauty of the environment, birds and animals.  A change of scenery often
uplifts your mood.  Go for a drive in the country with your loved one.  It will uplift their mood too.

3.  Stay positive.  When your thoughts take a negative spiral, do the breathing exercise (Tip #1) and affirm that you will look for the positive side of what is occuring.  Positive thoughts generate positive energy.  Negative thoughts increase negative energy.  Ask yourself where you want to be.

4.  Dance.  Exercise.  Go for a walk to get fresh oxygen and endorphins circulating in your body.  Engage the person you are caring for to do it with you even if all they can do is move their arms.  It will help them too.  Use music to stimulate and set the pace.

5.  Get a massage.  Massages help to remove toxins from muscles and to relax.  They also get your circulation moving.  This helps your brain to work better too since the brain uses 20-25% of the oxygen in the body.

6.  Take a bath.  Water is always healing.  A bath is soothing and relaxing.  You feel refreshed when you are finished.  A swim can offer the same
effects.  Besides exercising your muscles, it also relaxes tension.  When you are finished, you will feel more limber and mentally clearer.  A day on the water can offer much refreshment as well.  Fresh air can improve your outlook.

7.  Meditate.  Meditation involves breathing and intense focus which leaves the brain free to receive inspiration and creativity.  Music often assists participants to relax.  Candles can add atmosphere and a point of focus as can words like ‘peace’, ‘forgiveness’, ‘love’.  You can choose on what you want to focus.  After meditation, you will feel peaceful, relaxed and energized.  Do this for 10 minutes and then increase your time as you become comfortable with the process.

Caregiving can be challenging and sometimes frustrating.  By staying centered and peaceful yourself, your loved one will reflect this and be more cooperative.  If you are frustrated and angry, they will reflect that as well.  You choose what you want to experience.

If stress affects caregiver health, what will happen to the patient?

If you do not take care of yourself as a caregiver, what will the person you are caring for do when you are sick or unable to care for them?  You must take care of yourself so you will be able to care for them.  Select some people who join you periodically to first get acquainted with your charge and then take over for short bouts.  Give yourself time off.  This is smart planning.  Life throws unexpected curves and it will be
easier on your loved one if you have planned for the inevitable in advance.

In summary, incorporate these seven tips into your life to increase your relaxation potential and to uplift your emotional level.  By staying faithful to caring for yourself, you will experience greater personal health and better behavior from the person for which you are caring.

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