When caregivers are asked to talk about the stress in their lives, they frequently identify their emotions first, rather than a specific problem or situation. While recognizing emotions is an important step to maintaining positive emotional health, identifying the situations or events that are problematic is the key to managing stress and preventing caregiver burnout.
To reduce your stress, focus on the things that you can control. The first step to reducing stress is to review the list of problems over which you have some control.
• Focus on eliminating the problems that are most bothersome by identifying several ways to implement changes to reduce problems. You will increase your success rate of reducing your stress levels by identifying a variety of solutions for each issue. Conversations with the person receiving care, other family members, and other caregivers are great sources for exchanging ideas to foster change.
• Implement changes. Make a mental note on how the changes help you manage your stress. Changes that reduce stress should be maintained, while those that increase stress should be eliminated. Make changes to relieve more stress accordingly.
• Repeat this exercise periodically to maintain minimum stress levels.
For situations in which you have no control, it is important to maintain a positive outlook.
• Find the silver lining in every stressful situation. Maybe the person receiving care had fewer emotional outbursts today than yesterday or ate more than usual despite taking twice as long to eat. Celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small.
• Remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day and the chance to approach your situation with renewed energy and vision.
• Visit with another caregiver. Seeing the challenges other caregivers face can put your own experiences in perspective and provide an opportunity to learn new coping strategies.
• Congratulate yourself! Many caregivers experience personal growth and feelings of pride from their caregiving role. Recognize how far you have come in meeting the challenges of providing care and be proud of your accomplishments. Reducing stress effectively includes taking different approaches to different problems. By taking advantage of the stress reducing tips, stress can be managed more effectively and the effects of stress on your well-being and health can be reduced.