Caregiving has difficult and challenging moments. Today’s caregivers are often hit with the responsibilities of caregiving during a crisis when they are already working fulltime and taking care of their own families. Often they are isolated with the person for which they are caring. Frustrating episodes can escalate. One of the first steps they can take is to visit or call the Area Agencies on Aging (www.n4a.org) to talk about what your loved one needs. They were created by the government to help older adults through the journey of aging. Next, many home health companies like Pear Tree Home Care provide respite care to give the caregiver time away to rejuvenate themselves. This is a beneficial service since it helps the caregiver to prevent burnout.
Note these 7 tips to help you cope and stay calm.
- Breathe deeply to a count of six (6) and then exhale to a count of 6. Do this for five minutes. You will feel refreshed after you do this. It helps to engage your parasympathic nervous system which relaxes tense muscles. It will also help you to sleep better.
- Go out in nature; take a walk in the park; appreciate the beauty of the environment, birds and animals. A change of scenery often uplifts your mood. Go for a drive in the country with your loved one. It will uplift their mood too.
- Stay positive. When your thoughts take a negative spiral, do the breathing exercise (Tip #1) and affirm that you will look for the positive side of what is occurring. Positive thoughts generate positive energy. Negative thoughts increase negative energy. Ask yourself where you want to be.
- Dance. Exercise. Go for a walk to get fresh oxygen and endorphins circulating in your body. Engage the person you are caring for to do it with you even if all they can do is move their arms. It will help them too. Use music to stimulate and set the pace.
- Get a massage. Massages help to remove toxins from muscles and to relax. They also get your circulation moving. This helps your brain to work better too since the brain uses 20-25% of the oxygen in the body.
- Take a bath. Water is always healing. A bath is soothing and relaxing. You feel refreshed when you are finished. A swim can offer the same effects. Besides exercising your muscles, it also relaxes tension and increases endorphins. When you are finished, you will feel more limber and mentally clearer. A day on the water can offer much refreshment as well. Fresh air can improve your outlook.
- Meditate. Meditation involves breathing and intense focus which leaves the brain free to receive inspiration and creativity. Music often assists participants to relax. Candles can add atmosphere and a point of focus. Words like ‘peace’, ‘forgiveness’, ‘love’ also help clear your mind. You can choose the method you prefer to help you focus. After meditation, you will feel peaceful, relaxed and energized. Do this for 10 minutes and then increase your time as you become comfortable with the process.
Others Can Help
Caregivers must entertain the idea that they are not the only one who can take care of their loved one. Otherwise, if they have a medical setback, no one will be available to take care of their charge. Reach out to other family members for assistance. Assign times when they can come over to relieve you. If that does not work, hire a home care company to relieve you so that you are able to relax away from home. Caregiving can be isolating even if you love the person for whom you are caring. Too much isolation will turn a loving person into a resentful, angry person. Find ways to get out and to have time away. Get your loved one used to other people. They may be able to bring something that you cannot.
What do you like to do in your free time? Carve out time to do it. Take a walk; listen to music; dance. All caregivers have commonalities and sharing with each other often brings solutions to problems that you never considered. Journal what is going through your mind and don’t forget to write down what you are doing every day to support yourself. Be sure to get plenty of exercise. It is a great stress releaser!