Caring for an older adult can be rewarding, but stress is part of the challenging job. If left unchecked, stress can lead to burnout, aka physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. Effects of stress include headaches, loss of focus, decreased appetite, and increased frustration. Balance is key in finding a way to meet your needs and the needs of others. While there's no one right way to manage caregiver stress, it starts with self-care, eating right, and rest. Read on for eight more tools to keep in your stress-handling toolbox.

Things You Can Do Right Now

Take a Deep Breath (or Lots of Them)

"Just breathe" seems like stupid advice, especially since not breathing isn't an option, but the effects of deep, slow, controlled, mindful, steady breathing can be surprising. Breathing exercises have been documented to decrease the body's 'fight-or-flight' (stress) response, and help with mood stabilization, anger control, and anxiety management.

Relax and recenter with diaphragmatic breathing (aka abdominal breathing or belly breathing). Start by inhaling through your nose, filling your belly with breath. Then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat as necessary. The free mobile app, Breathe2Relax can help guide you through breathing exercises.

Meditate

Along these same lines, meditation is a free, efficient way of reducing stress and anxiety no matter where you are. Meditation quiets the "monkey mind," as it's referred to by Zen Buddhists, otherwise known as the thoughts that are constantly running through your head. To get started, check out our article on Benefits Of Mindful Meditation For Older Adults - And How To Get Started. Download the Calm app for a guided meditation on the go.

Use Your Senses

Sound, sight, smell, taste, and touch are built-in stress relievers. Speedy and reliable, your senses are immediately accessible. Listen to soothing music, watch a funny movie, light a scented candle, eat some chocolate, hug someone.

Write It Down

Have you ever written out an angry letter, only to toss it out or delete it? The effects of actually sending the letter are the same because you got your feelings out. Keeping a journal can help relieve stress and anxiety because writing helps focus the mind. Record what you're stressed about; jot down what you're grateful for; make a to-do list. The point is to get whatever is buzzing around your brain out and on paper.

Things to Make a Plan For

Schedule a Massage

We don't have to explain the merits of massage therapy. The most common areas we tend to hold stress are in the neck, shoulders, hips, hands, and feet. So get those tense muscles to the masseuse for a little TLC. Failing that, you can do a little DIY massage using a foam roller or massage therapy balls (tennis balls work too) to get out the kinks. Once you've gotten out the knots, make sure to drink plenty of water to rehydrate.

Take a Yoga Class

Physical activity and exercise produce endorphins, the same magic brain chemical that's at work when you meditate, get a massage, or practice deep breathing. These natural painkillers relieve tension, boost your mood, improve physical and mental health, and can lead to better sleep.

Using a combination of physical poses, controlled breathing, and relaxation, yoga is widely used for stress reduction. According to the Mayo Clinic, the mind-body practice "may help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and lower your heart rate". Join an instructor-led yoga class, or start your own at-home practice. YouTube has a ton of yoga videos--Yoga with Adriene's Yoga for Stress Management is a good place to start.

Join a Support Group

Expressing what you're going through can be very cathartic. Connecting with supportive people is another good way to manage stress. Support groups provide a place to vent your frustrations to people who are facing similar situations. Members might have some invaluable knowledge that can help, or they might just listen and provide emotional support, but at the very least, you will know that you aren't alone. Many organizations, from hospitals to healthcare plans, offer support groups for caregivers. If you are unable to arrange for a substitute caregiver or travel for support face-to-face, there's always online support groups. Start with our list of Facebook Support Groups for Caregivers.

Ask for Help

Between doctor's visits, getting scripts filled, paying the bills, getting groceries, cooking, and running errands, you deserve a break, baby! Delegate: Ask a family member or friend to bring over a hot meal, pick up the dry cleaning, or sit in for you for a bit. People want to help, but they can't read your mind. If someone does offer, say a ride to the hairdresser, accept it! If there are funds available, you can hire someone else to provide in-home services or look respite care like adult daycare centers.

Related Articles

Five Benefits of the Sandwich Generation Household Five Benefits of the Sandwich Generation Household
How to Reduce Stress in Caregivers: Meditation How to Reduce Stress in Caregivers: Meditation
Here’s How Much You Need to Save Each Day to Become A Millionaire Here’s How Much You Need to Save Each Day to Become A Millionaire
Family Leave Benefits Are Being Cut:  5 Ideas for Family Caregivers Family Leave Benefits Are Being Cut: 5 Ideas for Family Caregivers
Caregiver Burnout:  Setting Limits As A Caregiver Caregiver Burnout: Setting Limits As A Caregiver
Caregiver Shortage in Demand and Supply of Caregivers Strains Families Caregiver Shortage in Demand and Supply of Caregivers Strains Families
Caregiving Over the Holidays: Tips to Manage and Enjoy without Stress Caregiving Over the Holidays: Tips to Manage and Enjoy without Stress
Positive Thinking Promotes Health for Elderly and Caregivers Positive Thinking Promotes Health for Elderly and Caregivers
Keeping a Diary–A Great Idea for Caregivers Keeping a Diary–A Great Idea for Caregivers
Compassion Fatigue: What You Need to Know Compassion Fatigue: What You Need to Know
Respite for Caregivers Is a Regenerative Gift With Many Rewards Respite for Caregivers Is a Regenerative Gift With Many Rewards
Managing Multiple Caregivers Managing Multiple Caregivers

Trending Topics

The Best Face Masks Review 2020 The Best Face Masks Review 2020
Healthcare in Sweden: A Model of Elderly Care Healthcare in Sweden: A Model of Elderly Care
A Food Delivery Service Serves Seniors Too! A Food Delivery Service Serves Seniors Too!
Medical Technicians in Assisted Living Medical Technicians in Assisted Living
Does Your Elderly Loved One Really Need that Test? Does Your Elderly Loved One Really Need that Test?

Recent Articles

14 Virtual Experiences For Seniors To Have At Home 14 Virtual Experiences For Seniors To Have At Home
How To Detect Fake News And Fact-Check Information Online How To Detect Fake News And Fact-Check Information Online
New Scams That Seniors Need to Be Aware Of New Scams That Seniors Need to Be Aware Of
13 At-Home Activities For Seniors Besides Watching TV 13 At-Home Activities For Seniors Besides Watching TV
5 Ways To Combat Depression In Seniors 5 Ways To Combat Depression In Seniors

The material of this web site is provided for informational purposes only. SeniorsMatters.com does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment;or legal, financial or any other professional services advice. Use of this site is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.