Caregivers face all kinds of unique challenges. While learning new ways to overcome them can be rewarding, the time and effort it takes to care for an older adult with a chronic condition can be stressful. In fact, caregivers are such common victims of stress that their particular brand of it has been given a name – caregiver stress.
It’s a problem recognized by experts around the globe, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Caregiver stress can cause serious physical and emotional health problems when it is not dealt with, such as depression and a greater risk for developing chronic illnesses. There are many ways that caregivers can relieve stress, like these simple ideas.
Take a Yoga Class
Yoga is a great stress reliever because it involves slow, controlled movements combined with deep breathing. It requires caregivers to concentrate on their body and how they breathe, which focuses their mind and prevents it from wandering to whatever is worrying them. It’s also a great form of exercise that will keep your body healthier. There are yoga classes designed to target many different areas of life, such as weight loss and building strength. While any yoga class will be beneficial, it may be best to look for one tailored for stress relief.
Spend Time with Pets
Pets make us happy and they provide unconditional love. Spending some time stroking a pet’s soft fur can be relaxing. Playing with them and watching their silly antics can be an instant mood booster. In addition, walking a dog provides exercise which can burn away some of your nervous energy and lessen stress levels. Another nice thing about walking with a dog? People are more likely to smile at you or stop to chat, which can also boost your mood.
Use Deep Breathing Techniques
Deep breathing techniques are one of the simplest ways to relieve stress because they only take a few minutes and can be done anywhere. Just sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Breathe in deeply through your nose so that your stomach rises and then slowly out through your mouth.
Say “Yes” to Help
One thing that could be causing your caregiver stress is having too much to do and too little time to do it. One way you can relieve stress caused by time constraints is to accept help when it is offered. If a friend or family member asks if there is something they can do for your aging relative, say yes! Ask them to perform simple tasks that eat up some of your time, like cooking meals or grocery shopping. You might even ask them to spend a few hours with the senior while you do something just for you.