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Dealing with Stress

Speaking with several family caregivers lately, I have noticed a common trend: everyone is STRESSED!  The responsibilities and challenges of taking care of an ill or disabled loved one can place significant stress on a family caregiver.  Unfortunately, dealing with daily stress makes caregivers susceptible to health issues such as high blood pressure, sleep issues, and an increased risk of stroke.  Care of a loved one is a constant 24/7 job and our ability to control the daily stress that the job brings is key to staying healthy.  So, it is important to try to relieve some of this stress so you don’t end up sick and unable to provide care for your loved one(s).  

Here are some ideas that might help:

  • Create a list and establish a daily routine

Of course this is easier said than done when it comes to a family member that needs constant supervision and care however, try to get yourself and your loved one on a schedule.  Prioritize and delegate tasks when possible and know that there will be times that the schedule will need to alter. The idea of a schedule is meant to reduce stress and if it doesn’t, alter it.

  • Focus on the things you can control

Instead of stressing over things that you can’t control (like the disability with which our loved one struggles), focus on the things you can control such as how you react to the situation.  Don’t spend your time worrying about why or how this disability came about since it won’t change what is needed right now.  Instead, work on ways to make daily life easier for your loved one and yourself.

  • Ask for help

If possible, take a break and ask someone to help you.  It is OK to be tired and to take a break. It may even be good for your loved one to get used to different caregivers.

  • Keep organized

With all the doctor’s visits, medication changes and menu changes, it may seem hard to be organized, but organization relieves stress. If you are stressed, you may find that de-cluttering is a good start to getting organized.

  • Stay positive

Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, realize how much you are already doing.  Focus on how much you are helping your loved one and how strong you are for doing it.

Caring for a loved one who is disabled or ill can be challenging, but it can also be very rewarding; offering many positive effects on the entire family.  However, never forget that giving proper care to your loved ones includes relieving stress and taking care of yourself.