Creative Ways to Manage Caregiver StressNovember 1, 2023
Creative Ways to Manage Caregiver Stress
Taking on a caregiving role for an elderly loved one is one of the most selfless actions a person can take. Each day, you are directly responsible for the well-being of another individual. While this is an incredibly rewarding experience, it can also be a physically and emotionally exhausting one. It’s natural to need assistance every now and again.
As a caregiver, at this point, you have likely explored a myriad of resources about alleviating stress. Each of them provides great insight into common ways to manage stress, however, as you read, you may have realized many share the same few tips. Naturally, these tips are repeated for a reason: they are shown to be genuinely beneficial. However, if you have been in this role for some time, you may be on the hunt for creative ways to manage caregiver stress.
When it comes to your mental health, it’s never a bad idea to try something new. Incorporate one, or a few, of these creative ways to manage caregiver stress and caregiver burnout next time you need to unwind.
Though aromatherapy may sound like some strange, new-age medicine, it has actually been practiced for centuries. Whether you drop essential oil into a scent diffuser or rub a few drops between your palms and take deep breaths, the scent of the oil travels directly to the emotional center of the brain. This soothes a number of conditions, including anxiety and depression.
Remember: aromatherapy is not a replacement for the treatment of certain conditions. It can, however, help alleviate symptoms temporarily. Try this with lavender oil, which has been shown to help with stress and anxiety.
Practice gratitude journaling
When things are difficult, it’s easy to ruminate on everything you’re currently struggling with. This can start you on a “doom spiral,” a term that refers to getting stuck in a negative feedback loop with your inner voice. This leads to even more severe mental health struggles.
Gratitude journaling encourages you to do the exact opposite. Instead of focusing on what is troubling you, record everything you are grateful for in your life. This can include especially significant things, such as the love of a spouse, as well as smaller things, such as a delicious cookie you had. No matter its scale, writing down everything shows you that there is so much in life to look forward to.
Spend time with a pet
If you have a pet, you know that they are so much more than little creatures you share your home with. When you interact with your pet, you instantly feel better—and this isn’t just an observed phenomenon. Research shows that interacting with animals can decrease your blood pressure, as well as cortisol (or stress hormone) levels. They can also help reduce levels of loneliness.
Those who don’t have their own pet still have plenty of ways to interact with one. Ask a friend or family member if you can spend time with their pets, visit a cat café (there are two in Chicago!), or volunteer at a shelter for a few hours. Spending time away from work and with a furry friend can significantly help.
Watch or read something that makes you laugh
Sometimes, one of the best ways to relieve your stress is to laugh. Laughter actually increases our oxygen intake, which can help soothe both mental and physical tension. When you’re feeling low, carve out some time in your day to watch a funny video, an episode of your favorite sitcom, or read a funny story.
There has also been a recent trend in consuming “comfort shows,” which are shows that help viewers escape the stressors of their real lives for a period of time by enveloping them in a familiar environment. Consuming that piece of media may also help you feel more at peace.
Do a “thought dump”
Sometimes, no matter what you try, you can’t stop thinking about all the tasks you have to complete, all your loved one’s needs, or all your worries. In those cases, the answer isn’t a distraction. Instead, face what is ailing you by writing it all down in a journal. Doing so serves two functions: first, writing down your list so you don’t forget, and second, getting all your thoughts out of your head.
Sometimes, all you need is an outlet for your thoughts and feelings to feel relief. With everything out in the open, you can better focus on care for your loved one, or your own self-care.
For assistance with care, consider home care
Some days, managing all your responsibilities as a family caregiver and an individual can feel impossible. However, you don’t have to shoulder the responsibilities of care all on your own. At Home Care Powered by AUAF, our professional caregivers can assist your elderly loved one with all the non-medical activities they require help with.
Learn more about how an at-home caregiver can help improve your quality of life by calling 773-274-9262.
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