Relieve Caregiver Stress With These Practical Tips

These tips will help relieve caregiver stress and provide opportunities for self-care.

As a caregiver for an older parent, you likely feel a great deal of responsibility on your shoulders. Whether your parent lives with you, down the street, or across the country, managing their care needs and overseeing their wellbeing as they navigate the complexities of aging can be stressful for family caregivers. This means it’s essential to understand how to relieve caregiver stress.

What is Caregiver Stress?

Caregiver stress is the emotional and physical strain that results from providing ongoing care for another person. Prolonged caregiver stress can lead to physical and mental health problems, including a weakened immune system, an increased risk for chronic diseases, anxiety, depression, and more. Not only do these potential outcomes impact your own wellbeing, but they also impact your ability to provide ongoing care for a loved one.

What Are the Symptoms of Caregiver Stress?

Emotional signs and symptoms of caregiver stress include:

    Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
    Feelings of loneliness or isolation from others
    Ongoing hopelessness or sadness
    Moodiness—feeling easily irate or angered

Physical signs and symptoms of caregiver stress include:

    Sleeping too little or too much
    Rapid weight loss or weight gain
    Frequent body aches or headaches
    Always feeling exhausted or tired
    Abusing alcohol, recreational drugs, or prescription medications

What Are the Top Tips for Relieving Caregiver Stress?

At American, Advocate and Whitsyms In-Home Care, we know that it’s essential to identify strategies to relieve caregiver stress. To help family caregivers, we’ve compiled the following practical tips that can be easily implemented.

  1. Just Say No. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities or places you have to be, it’s OK to say “No” rather than adding another to-do to your list. Ask for a rain check and instead of viewing it as turning down an opportunity to help, view it as an opportunity to prioritize your own self-care.
  2. Exercise. Make a commitment to schedule regular exercise into your weekly routine. Whether it’s a walk at the park, an exercise class at the gym, working in the yard, or a game of tennis or golf, physical activity is a natural mood booster and stress reliever. Exercise provides a variety of physical benefits, including maintaining a healthy weight, and it can even help regulate sleep cycles.
  3. Eat Right. Stress can bring out our worst eating habits. Unfortunately, chips, desserts, and fast food options are high in fat, sodium and sugar, and frequently offer little nutritional value. Instead, prioritize eating well-rounded meals at set times and focus on fresh fruits and vegetables and lean proteins.
  4. Get Plenty of Sleep. Family caregivers can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, and either struggle to have a consistent bedtime routine or are impacted by insomnia. Ongoing sleep deprivation can lead to a variety of health concerns. It’s important to practice good sleep hygiene: go to bed and wake up at the same time every night and aim for a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night.
  5. Journal. Documenting your worries and frustrations in either a private notebook or an electronic document on your computer is a good way to process feelings. Since no one will ever see this but you, be completely honest and use your writing to process the many complex feelings and emotions associated with caring for a loved one.
  6. Incorporate Laughter Daily. Laughter causes physical changes in the body that help relieve mental stress and physical tension. Rather than reading or watching the news each evening, consider turning on a favorite sitcom or calling a friend who always has a funny story to tell.
  7. Socialize. Prioritize friendships and relationships with relatives by keeping in touch. For friends and relatives who live nearby, schedule regular outings to see them in person. For those who live at a distance, phone and video calls can help keep you connected. Prioritizing time with your social circle is a stress reliever and provides an automatic mood boost.
  8. Prioritize Hobbies and Enjoyable Activities. The responsibilities of family caregiving can make it feel like that role is your whole identity. It can feel very challenging to prioritize activities and hobbies that are enjoyable, but it’s extremely important. Whether it’s going to a local coffee shop to read, attending a yoga class twice a week, or a monthly book club meeting, make time for these activities and don’t feel guilty for prioritizing “me time.”
  9. Prioritize Your Health. With the many responsibilities on a family caregiver’s plate, it’s easy to prioritize everyone and everything else before yourself. Maintaining your own health is vital to having the ability to care for a loved one. Be sure to make and keep annual health exams. And don't overlook mental health. Working with a therapist can help family caregivers navigate stress and the many responsibilities that come with caring for a loved one.
  10. Ask for Help. Caregiving isn’t something that needs to be done alone. Partnering with a referred care provider from American, Advocate or Whitsyms In-Home Care provides family caregivers with much needed respite so that they can prioritize their own self-care.

How In-Home Care Helps Family Caregivers

American, Advocate, and Whitsyms In-Home Care referred caregivers offer a variety of services to meet a number of care needs and can assist with:

With customized care solutions from referred care providers designed to help individuals live independently and safely at home, family caregivers can feel confident knowing their loved one is receiving excellent care.
Contact us any time to learn more about in-home and respite care for older adults by clicking the link to the location nearest you below:

State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 5661