Managing stress for caregivers prevents burnout
Stress comes with the territory when you’re a caregiver.
It’s not possible to completely eliminate caregiver stress, but there are many ways to give yourself a break and reduce the negative effects on your body and mind.
Of course, we’re all trying to reduce stress, but sometimes, we could be multiplying its effects without even realizing it.
We tell a story about how stress can grow unnoticed over time and share 3 ways to reduce caregiver stress and burnout.
A story about how carrying stress multiplies the effect
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 asked: “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.”
That’s why it’s so important to do your best to let go of the things that are stressing you out. Whenever possible, put down those worries.
Don’t carry them all day, all night, and when you’re taking breaks.
Putting that glass down means minimizing the weight of the stress you experience while caring for your older adult.
3 ways to prevent caregiver stress and burnout
It’s one thing to say you should let go of stress and not dwell on things.
It’s another matter to put that into practice, especially when caregiving goes on for years and the worries are right in front of you.
So what can you actually do to put down 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 stressed cause you even more stress!
The only well-rested, relaxed, on-top-of-everything 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 in 2 minutes with a helpful (free) mobile app
- Get 10 quick break ideas to use anytime
3. Get support
You need and deserve real breaks on a regular basis.
It might sound impossible to get help with caregiving, but it’s possible to put together a team based on the resources available to you.
Realistic ways to get regular breaks from caregiving:
- Explore a variety of ways to get help
- Hire a few hours of in-home help each week
- Tap into local organizations and volunteer resources
- Find local respite care services
Recommended for you:
- How to Cope with Compassion Fatigue: 8 Tips for Caregivers
- 5 Ways to Use a Journal to Reduce Caregiver Stress
- 5 Expert Tips for Reducing Caregiver Guilt
By DailyCaring Editorial Team
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