Releasing Caregiver Stress

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  • By B. Lynn Goodwin.

    It seems as if everybody is a caregiver for someone – a spouse, a parent, a special needs child, an in-law, a sibling, or possibly an old friend.

    Caregiving covers a vast range of responsibilities. You could be raising a special needs child or you could be checking in on a neighbor who recently lost a spouse. You could be the best buddy of a soldier who’s just back from the war or you could be the spouse of a police officer. You could be a social worker or a teacher, caring from a distance. For that matter, you could be a long-distance caregiver battling with the guilt of being unable to care for mom or dad at the same time you take care of your family.

    Caregiver stress wears and tears on both the heart and soul. Avoid the downhill spiral. Here are some ideas for relieving whatever stress you feel right now.

    1. Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Slowing down helps your heart stop racing and clears your mind.

    2. Have a glass of water or a cup of tea. Take it out on the patio or sit on the front stoop. Office workers get a coffee break; why shouldn’t you?

    3. Call someone you haven’t seen in a while just to chat.

    4. Don’t know who to call? Join an online or face-to-face support group. Whether you join a Yahoo group, a Google group, a Linked-In group, or you google “Caregiver Support” and join a group you find there, reach out to members. Connect.

    5. Check local chapters of disease-specific organizations, such as the Alzheimer’s Association or the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Every disease has an organization and a support group. Some meet face-to-face and some meet online. Google the name of the condition—whether it’s diabetes or cancer, ADHD or Autism, mental illness or PTSD – and support group. Click on whatever interests you. Explore the site. Could they help? Call the 800 number or e-mail the organization for information.

    6. Start a journal. It’s a proven way to work through your emotions, questions, challenges and triumphs. There are many journaling experts online, including me. Contact one of us for help and connections to a class or group.

    7. Play a game. Online games let you play when you want, giving your mind and your emotions a little break. Play simply for the joy of it. Not into games? Read a book or see a movie. If you can’t get out, download what you need.

    8. Are you losing your temper or fighting unreasonable expectations? Maybe i’s time to get away. If you cannot find someone to cover for you, consider using an Adult Daycare Service in your community. Churches, synagogues, and senior centers offer respite because they recognize that the  need goes both ways.

    Now that we’ve established that you’re entitled to a break, what will you do with your time off?

    • Sleep?
    • Escape into a mindless movie or a favorite book?
    • Take photos?
    • Hike, bike, or drive out into the country?
    • Figure out how to use the Kindle that’s gathering dust?
    • Cook your favorite recipe
    • Invite an old friend to dinner?

    If you’re not sure where to start, try this. Take an hour. Go to a local coffee shop. Order whatever makes your mouth water. Then sit down and make a list of the things you used to love to do. How long since you’ve done any of them? Pick a day and time to give one a try.

    Tips for Relieving Caregiver Stress

    Make a list of people you miss. Do you have phone numbers? Addresses? Pick one and reach out. Wouldn’t you like to hear from a long lost friend? So would they.

    Make a list of local spots you’d like to revisit or the places you’ve always wanted to see. If your loved one is up to it, take her along. If not, let her enjoy the stimulation and change of scenery that Adult Daycare can provide and treat yourself.

    When you make these lists you are journaling, and journaling is one more way to relieve stress.

    Start somewhere. Start anywhere. Take care of yourself. Replenish your reserves and you’ll be a better for it – whether you’re a caregiver or not.

    Want to share your list? Post it here or tell me privately. Write to me at Lgood67334@comcast.net, and put InspireMeToday in the subject box. I can’t wait to hear from you!

    Photo Credit: bottled_void

    B. Lynn Goodwin

    B. Lynn Goodwin is the author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers, available on Amazon. Her stories and articles have been published in Voices of Caregivers; Hip Mama; the Oakland Tribune; the Contra Costa Times; the Danville Weekly; Staying Sane When You’re Dieting; Small Press Review; Dramatics Magazine; Career; We Care; Thickjam.com, Friction Literary Journal, and The Sun. A former teacher, she conducts workshops and writes reviews for Story Circle Network and InspireMeToday. She’s working on a YA novel and brainstorming a memoir. She’s the owner and editor of Writer Advice. Writer Advice recently celebrated its 16th year and runs contests for aspiring and published writers as well as sharing useful tips from experienced writers.

    For more information, please visit writeradvice.com.

    View all posts by B. Lynn Goodwin.

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    3 replies
    1. karen
      karen says:

      Gosh It was so nice to read this article in re: To caregiver stress Oh my goodness are we suffering just that….. Sometimes you get so emotional over it all , then you feel so guilty if you do something to destress etc… Fortunately i have a very supportive spiritual significant other as well as very dear friends who are going through the very same things we are… We all help each other in every way we can….Honestly it took a long time for us to all get on the same pg with our duties as caregivers…..Other family members we thought would be compassionate and help out turned out to do just the exact opposite… And then we felt all alone doing this….. Our mom are 24/7 care We care for them in our homes…. The financial strains have been so difficult but thank god we have found ways around them and are managing…..With constant prayer to our dear lord and savior ……. We are ever so grateful….. Confused by the roller coaster ride of emotions day to day…..Sometimes its just so hard to keep yourself “IN check” …… Be grateful Everyday is a new day and a blessing gift will come…..

      Reply
      • B. Lynn Goodwin
        B. Lynn Goodwin says:

        So many wonderful thoughts here. Being grateful is a big one. Do you ever make gratitude lists? They truly help put things in perspective.

        I think you have a lot to say, and I hope you’ll get a copy of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers–just because I think it might be useful for both you and your spouse. Someday your kids might like to read your record of this time in your life.

        No pressure. Just something to think about. I’m pretty sure there are still copies at Amazon, if you’re interested.

        Reply
    2. B. Lynn Goodwin
      B. Lynn Goodwin says:

      Kudos to the photo-finder. That one shows me, but I can’t decide when I’m the yellow head and when I’m the fingers squeezing it.

      Can’t wait to read your lists. Short ones are fine.

      Reply

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