Being a caregiver is no small undertaking. This critical role you’ve taken on can come attached with a lot of stress as well. No matter where you are in your life’s journey – you may have your own children, a career, or both, not to mention your regular day-to-day responsibilities – the everyday stress you feel must be addressed and managed for you to consistently and compassionately care for your loved one.
Get Those Endorphins Flowing
None of us are strangers to feelings of stress, and it’s likely we’ve altered our lives in the past to manage it for other reasons. As a caregiver, if you do not prioritize your own health it will be that much harder to take care of a loved one. Find a local yoga class, workout facility, or even a walking route that is conveniently located and fits into your schedule. Ideally, it would be helpful to have a partner join in with you – this will not only address your physical health but your emotional wellbeing. The endorphins created when you exercise attack stress immediately. The Mayo Clinic explains how this works in your brain and how it can change your mood, perspective, and ultimately your outlook on your role as a caregiver.
It Starts with You
It’s easy to reach your exhaustion point quickly when taking care of a loved one. And, depending on the level of care you are providing, you may not feel you can take any time for yourself, or when you do, guilt creeps in. It’s a new time in your life, and it requires that you shift your perspective and look at time for you as critical and regenerative. Not allowing yourself downtime can result in an accumulation of stored stress and anger, meaning it’s just a matter time until your own health reaches its breaking point. Utilize a combined planner system for your and your loved one’s appointments. Schedule in your “me time” just like you would a doctor’s appointment. You may even want to call on a friend to care for your loved one while you head to a coffee shop or get a massage. Or you can take advantage of Respite Care at a Senior Living Management Community – you get to decide how much time you need.
Taking care of someone who is sick or dying can become lonely and isolating and, in some cases, lead to depression. Be it family, friends, or a support group, you’ll find reaching out to others is critical to reducing your stress as a caregiver. You’ve added doctor’s appointments, transportation, and daily caregiving to your own plate of responsibilities. This can be overwhelming, so don’t hesitate to look outside of yourself for help. Organizations like AARP or Family Caregiver Alliance are good options for support groups in your area, or tune into Facebook to find a long list of caregiver support groups such as Memory People or Caregivers Connect.
If you’d like to learn more about how to address issues as a caregiver, visit the Senior Living Management blog.