Carrying stress multiplies the effect
We recently found a story that shows how the effects of stress can multiply. The story isn’t specifically about caring for seniors, but the lesson is 100% relevant and helpful for managing caregiver stress.
A story about carrying stress
A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”
Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.
She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”
It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses. As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night. Remember to put the glass down!
3 ways to manage caregiver stress and prevent burnout
It’s one thing to say you should let go of stress at the end of each day and not dwell on things. It’s another matter to put that into practice, especially when caregiving never ends and worries are right in front of your face.
So what can caregivers actually do to manage that heavy “glass of water?” We’ve got 3 suggestions.
1. Have realistic expectations
It’s impossible to eliminate all stress, but you can minimize the effect it has on you. Don’t let the fact that you’re feeling some stress cause you even more stress! The only well-rested, relaxed caregiver in existence will be found sitting between a unicorn and the abominable snowman (ha!).
2. Take micro breaks
Anytime you can put that load of stress down will help, even if it’s only for 5 minutes. If that means taking 2 extra minutes in the bathroom to visualize yourself on a beautiful beach or to do some deep breathing, then do it.
Here are a few more ways to take micro breaks that actually work:
- Add a few moments of gratitude into your day
- Relax with the free Calm website or mobile app
- Get 10 quick break ideas to use anytime
3. Get support
You need and deserve real breaks on a regular basis. That might sound impossible, but give these ideas for taking breaks a chance. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Realistic ways to take a break:
- Gather and lean on your caregiving team
- Hire a few hours of in-home help each week
- Tap into local volunteer resources
- Find local respite care services
You can’t eliminate the stresses of caregiving, but you can use these tips to give yourself a little break from worry and reduce the negative effects on your body and mind.