Stress Relief For Caregivers

stress relief for caregivers

Caregiver burnout is no small thing. No matter how much you love the patient, the physical, emotional, and mental challenges demanded of you by daily caregiving take their toll. This is why it’s so important to make stress relief and self-care a regular part of your caregiving routine. In fact, we believe it should be part of every caregiver’s job description. 

First, Let’s Define Self-Care 

Somehow, the term “self-care” has become synonymous with mani/pedi and massages. Those are absolutely wonderful things and should absolutely become a part of your self-care regimen if possible. However, self-care means so much more than that. It starts with the basics and then reaches out into the less tangible realms.  

For example, self-care refers to: 

  • Eating well to nourish your body and mind 
  • Establishing healthy sleep habits 
  • Getting daily exercise (preferably via some time spent outdoors) 
  • Practicing stress management (meditation, prayer, mindfulness, deep breathing, stretching, etc.) 
  • Learning to say, “no,” to give yourself extra time 
  • Recognizing the signs of caregiver fatigue/burnout so you can honor them 
  • Asking for the help you need 
  • Getting emotional/mental/spiritual support from professionals or others 
  • Practicing gratitude 

We could go on and on, but this list represents a foundation for true, nourishing self-care. From there, you can expand with whatever other wonderful treatments, healing modalities, or luxuries time and money permits. 

Make a healthy diet a priority for some stress relief 

If you don’t nourish your body with the right foods, you’ll be running on empty – and that’s not good for you or your client. Make healthy meals and snacks a priority. There are so many ways to make that happen, including with your client or loved one.  

We’ve written multiple posts pertaining to meal planning, nutrition, and so on. We are a homecare provider in the Bay Area, so our posts are geared towards seniors. However, when it comes to food, nutrition, and meal planning – the tenets are universal. Feel free to read any of the following: 

Practice healthy sleep habits 

Your body needs to rest well, and habitually, to restore energy, maintain hormone balance, and to keep your immune system healthy. If you are not getting the rest you need, it will take its toll on your overall health. 

Visit AARP’s post, 4 Tips For Better Sleep While Caregiving. Also, plenty of natural daylight by day and then a lights-out sleeping environment help the body’s natural circadian rhythm – one more reason why exercising outdoors is a good idea. We also invite you to our post about aromatherapy and how it can support relaxation, good sleep, and daytime energy. 

Make sure you’re exercising 

Exercise is about far more than weight management or cardio, it’s about clearing the mind, detoxing, getting rid of unhealthy stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, etc.), burning excess anxious/worried energy, and just making you plain feel good.  

Getting outside into Mother Nature while you do it is a win-win, but indoor exercise is most certainly better than no exercise.  

Actively practicing stress management 

From a yoga or meditation class or morning time spent in deep prayer to gadget-based mindfulness apps that can be used with headphones – there are so many ways to practice stress management. 

We have caregivers who set alarms hourly, or three times a day, to remind them to take deep breaths and center. You can make a conscious effort to get outside during the day – or night – to basque in the wonders of mother nature and let anxious thoughts float by like clouds in the sky. Perhaps you join a mindfulness group, or you find that gardening is the way to stress relief for you.  

It doesn’t matter how – what matters is that you are actively becoming aware of your stress levels and finding the tools to reduce them.  

Learning to say, “NO” to avoid caregiver fatigue and burnout 

We have yet to meet a caregiver who has solid boundaries from the start, especially when they are spouse/family-based caregivers. However, learning to say, “no,” is one of the best and healthiest gifts you’ll ever give to yourself and your client/loved one. Overextending yourself is always a recipe for burnout. Period. If you want to be the best caregiver you can, then you must honor your own body/needs first (remember the oxygen mask analogy?).  

It can be hard to say, “no” or to cancel plans involving something you love or “want” to do – but if your body or inner-resistor is asking you to say, “no” or bow out – please listen to and honor that wise voice. It’s your own, inner-caregiver trying desperately to do his/her job of taking care of you

Ask for the help you need 

Micromanagement is another very common facet of a caregiver. Even if you weren’t a micromanager before, it is a tendency to believe that your way is the best (and only) way and that without you the world will crumble. Even if the world doesn’t run as perfectly or neatly as you’d like, you can’t do it all without compromising yourself. 

Ask for the help you need and accept the help that is offered to you. This might include: 

  • Arranging respite care or regular breaks from caregiving 
  • Utilizing adult daycare centers in your area 
  • Asking family, church, friends, etc. to start a meal train for you (certain days? One day a week? Every day?) 
  • Hire a housekeeper or cleaner to keep up on chores 
  • Start a GoFundMe for family/friends to contribute to your cause 
  • Working with professional caregivers to take on some of the harder tasks for you 
  • Finding someone to take on night shifts for you so you can get a good night’s sleep 

Seek mental/emotional support 

Finally, we find that all caregivers benefit from intentional mental and emotional support. You are doing incredible work and only other caregivers truly understand the effects that work has on your body, mind, and spirit. 

We highly recommend that you find a way to share your experience with others, which can be immensely empowering and restorative. Examples include: 

  • Working with a regular therapist who has experience serving overworked caregivers 
  • Looking for caregiver support groups online or in your area (there is so much wisdom and compassion to be found there) 
  • Keep your feelers out and connect with others who are in the role of caregiver in your neighborhood, religious community/church, or extracurricular organizations. Even a weekly or bi-monthly Zoom or FaceTime Coffee/tea talk can provide such solace.  
  • Try connecting with your local senior center to see if they offer a support group to have caregiver connections in your neighborhood. 

Let Us Bring In Some Stress Relief

Could you benefit from some serious stress relief for caregivers? The caring and experienced staff at HomeAide Home Care Inc. are here to help. Our qualified caregivers can provide welcome respite care relief as well as weekly or monthly support to make sure you are getting much-deserved rest and time off. Contact Us to learn more at 510-247-1200.

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