Stress: A Caregivers Brief Guide to De-Stressing.

Monique Lanoix writes that caregivers face serious issues including loss of work, poor health and poverty, while at the same time performing a much-needed civic duty that saves the government millions in health-care funding. The caregiving act also allows the recipient of care to remain at home, which is preferred.

In other words, everyone seems to benefit but the caregiver.  While most people decide to be care givers and are happy to do so, the stress factors still exist.

Here are five ways to cope with, if not reduce the stress associated with caregiving.

  1. Check your posture. “Really?”  you say.  “Honestly, I’d expected something better than that!” But the reality is, correct posture with your shoulders back and down, your chest up and your head up, allow all of your organs to sit in proper alignment and therefore function efficiently.  Proper posture also opens up your lungs, allowing for better and healthier circulation, intake of air and circulation of oxygen through your system.

  1. Breathing deeply in and holding that breath, and then slowly breathing out again, is one of the best ways to relax and to send the message to your own body that you still know it’s there.  It is so easy to ignore our own bodies when we’re feeling exhausted from the challenges of giving constant care to someone else.  But you need this body, and you need it to be well.  So bathe your lungs in oxygen.

  1. Indulge in Music: Music is one of the greatest de-stressors of all time.  If you like to sing, then hum or sing while you load the dishwasher, change the laundry loads, cook a meal or take a shower.  Likewise, if you just like to listen, turn on the tunes and indulge in a little “kitchen dancing” while you prepare meals, do dishes, or prepare meds.  While the care-recipient is taking a nap, lie down in a separate room, if possible, and snooze with a soothing song or sonata playing in the background.  Focus on the music.  You’ll find your mood uplifted.

  1. Keep a Journal. As a Caregiver you may have plenty of complaints, stresses, concerns and just plain worries. Journalling is a neutral outlet that allows you to vent ad infinitum.  For some people, just writing down the flood of negative thoughts and emotions allows for more positive energy to re-enter the body and mind.  Once you see your rants on the page, you are more likely to be able deal with them objectively.

  1. Maintain a healthy diet: If you are what you eat, then surely this is the time to indulge in foods that protect your health and energize your cells.  Keep up with daily vitamins, especially C and D.  Eat organic or at least fresh, raw vegetables.  Try setting up a plate of cucumber, zucchini and carrot sticks, grape tomatoes, broccoli florets and apple slices early in the day and keep it in the forefront of the fridge.

For meal prep remember that lightly steamed vegetables or salad are fresh, loaded with vitamins and have the advantage of being much quicker to make, serve and eat.     Yogurt with its probiotics will help with digestive tract issues like indigestion, gas, and constipation which can occur when you must sit a lot, as many caretakers must.

Like many of your cohorts, you are probably primarily responsible for those in your care.  So keep in mind that it is as vital to them as it is to you, that you keep yourself healthy and in a good frame of mind.

For more on Monique Lanoix’s article see:

https://impactethics.ca/2014/01/14/family-caregivers-in-canada-prognosis-poor/

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