Taking care of an elderly person is a stressful job. Caregiver stress is a real term, and it means exactly what you think it means, the stress from trying to cope with the care of the infirm. If you are a caregiver, you need to take care of yourself in order to keep taking care of your patient. Here are a few tips for handling caregiver stress in 2020.
1. Go Outside
There have been endless studies on the benefits of spending time outside. Even if you can only step out onto the back patio for a few minutes of fresh air, that outdoor time will do you a world of good. Outdoor time can help lift depression, boost immunity, improve mood, and even help you sleep better at night. Try to spend a few minutes outside every day, especially if you can do so in a green environment, such as under a tree or a walk in the park.
2. Take a Break
If you are the only caretaker for a senior adult, it can be overwhelming. According to a national survey, as much as 72% of adult caregivers do so by themselves. Taking care of someone full time is a tremendous burden. If you find yourself doing it 24/7 without a break it can lead to burn out. Hiring someone to help with caregiving even once a week can give you a chance to step out, go shopping, or even just take a shower without worrying about what will happen while you're gone.
Meditation can not only help you reduce stress, it can reshape your brain for the better. Studies have shown that people new to meditation who had MRI scans done before and after a 6 week meditation course had more gray matter, especially in the cerebral cortex. Areas of the brain responsible for pain and stress actually shrank during this time.
Meditation can be a powerful tool in relieving caregiver stress.
4. Indulge yourself
Caregiving is all about focusing on the needs and wants of someone else. When you spend hours of your day giving everything you have to help another, what happens when you have nothing left to give? Self care doesn't just mean eating right and keeping up on your medical appointments (although you should do these things too), it also means having a nice relaxing foot bath while you eat ice cream in front of the TV.
Occasionally indulging yourself can be an important way to relax, and can help take you away from the stress even if it is just for a little bit. When you are choosing indulgences, make sure they aren't food related all the time—stress eating is comforting, but it can lead to obesity. Instead, switch it up with concerts, a fancy manicure, or other comforts that will leave you feeling pampered.
Caregiving is a tough job, but it is also one of the most important jobs out there. Give yourself some of the care and love you are showing others with daily self care, and both of you will reap the benefits.