You choose to take care of others, to help make their lives better, easier, and brighter through the help you provide. However, being a CDPAP caregiver is not always easy on you. It has the potential to take a toll if you aren’t careful. Below, learn how to recognize and handle stress better.

Signs of Caregiver Stress

How does someone know they are feeling stressed? Sometimes, the signs are obvious and easy to feel. Other times, they might be subtle. You might not realize that it’s stress that’s causing those problems for you.

One of the signs of stress is feeling as though you are overwhelmed most of the time or having a constantly worried feeling. Stress can also make you feel tired, even when you get enough sleep. Of course, stress can also cause you to get too much or not enough sleep.

Stress can cause weight gain or weight loss, changes in mood and increased irritability, and feelings of sadness. You might no longer enjoy activities you used to love. Some might have frequent headaches, body pains, and other physical problems. In some cases, caretakers who are stressed start to abuse alcohol or drugs, including prescription meds.

Given all of the issues stress can cause, caretakers need to learn to care for themselves, as well. They need to manage their stress.

Importance of Stress Management

Stress can change your outlook and the way you feel about yourself and those around you. Stress can create emotional instability, which is not healthy for you and those you are caring for.

When you feel stressed, it can make it difficult to think straight. This means that it’s often more difficult to do your job correctly. This could lead to mistakes and more stress.

Ultimately, when you are stressed, you are not going to be happy. You will find that you have less enjoyment out of life, and this can lead to a host of problems. One of those problems is caretaker burnout. You get to the point where you don’t want to do your job any longer. Learn how to handle your stress better.

How to Manage Stress

Stress is somewhat different for everyone. However, there are some tried and true tactics you can use that will help you to better manage the stress you feel. Let’s get a closer look at some of these.

Identify the Source

You need to know what it is that’s causing your stress. Sometimes, it’s obvious, but other times, it’s not. You can help to narrow down the cause or causes by starting a stress journal.

Write down what caused your stress. If you aren’t sure, make a guess. Write about how you felt physically and emotionally. Write down how you acted in response to the stressor and what you did to make yourself feel better. Next, you will want to think about how you can better deal with those stressors.

The Four As

Now, let’s examine the Four A’s that will help you better deal with your stress.

·         Avoid – Learn to say no, avoid people who make you stressed, make a to-do list, and take control of your environment.

·         Alter – Express your feelings, compromise, and create a balanced schedule.

·         Adapt – Refrain from the problem, look at the big picture, adjust your standards, and practice gratitude.

·         Accept – Don’t try to control the things you can’t, look for the positive, learn to forgive, and share your feelings.

In addition, you don’t want to remain sedentary, physically, as it can compound your stress.

Get Moving

One of the best ways to help combat the stress you are feeling is by getting up and moving. Physical activity has proven to reduce stress. Find some activities that you enjoy, such as swimming, hiking, jogging, etc., and make them part of your daily life. A little extra activity can go a long way in helping you to reduce your levels of stress.

Spend Time with Others

Being around other people can be cathartic. Sometimes, what you need when you feel stressed is someone to talk to about the stress. However, you should also find activities that you can do together to just relax and ease away the stress. Have a spa day, go fishing, binge some Netflix, etc.

Include Something Fun in Your Schedule

One of the reasons people have stress that continues to mount is because they don’t have anything to look forward to in their day. It’s all stress. This is no way to live. Make sure to schedule something enjoyable for yourself during the day or in your evening.

This could be anything that you like. It might be playing some games with friends, reading a book, going out to dinner, or painting. The point is to find things you like to do and make them part of each day, as it will help you push past the stress. Of course, you need to be sure you have the time, which leads us to the next tip.

Manage Your Time

How are you managing your time? Often, caregivers feel overwhelmed and move from one stressful situation to the next all day long. They don’t have any downtime, and this can make it feel like you don’t have a second to breathe.

You need to rethink your schedule and find ways that you can better manage your time. Make sure that you have some extra time in your day for the activities mentioned here, as well. Part of that time should include having enough time to eat.

Eat a Balanced Diet

The foods you choose, though, should always be as healthy as possible. When you have a balanced diet, you will feel better, and it can help you to think clearer.

Set up a meal plan ahead of time, so you aren’t always running around at the last minute trying to figure out what you want to eat. Just make sure not to eat too close to bedtime.

Get Enough Sleep

Stress can often make it difficult to get to sleep at night and get the full seven to eight hours you need. It’s important to work on improving your sleep schedule. Make sure you have a quiet, cool, comfortable room where you can rest.

Don’t use screens or check your email before going to bed. Consider listening to some nature sounds, such as rain, to help you get to sleep, too, and make sure you are taking good care of yourself.

Self-Care When Needed

Sometimes, you need a break. You need to recognize when the stress has become too much and provide the self-care you need to recharge and energize. Don’t neglect self-care. You deserve to be healthy and happy.

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