Thursday, April 16th is National Stress Awareness Day. It’s a topic very fitting for caregivers.
There seems to be an epidemic. People are stressed. You can see it on their faces and hear it in their voices. With all that is going on in the world, is it any wonder people are stressed?
Add to that all the demands of day-to-day living and you have a recipe for disaster. The baby sitter is sick today. You need to be at work to make a presentation at an important meeting. You forgot to pick up your Mother’s prescription at the drug store. You and the family have to go to a meeting tonight, and you don’t have anything ready for a quick and easy meal before you leave.
Stress is how you physically and emotionally respond to things that disrupt your everyday life. It is a type of pressure caused by things going on around you. Stress can be good or bad. Your body reacts to stress by releasing neurochemicals and hormones,which can impact several areas of your health.
You can cause yourself stress by too much worrying about things you have no control over. You can become stressed from working too much, and you can become stressed from things, situations, and people around you.
Did you know that if stress occurs too often or lasts an extended period of time, it can have negative effects? Stress can affect you physically and emotionally. You can experience disruptions in your sleep, stomach upset, headaches, stiff neck, tight muscles, fast heartbeat, fast breathing, and even back pain. Your immune system, which is key to staying healthy, can be weakened by stress. Unresolved stress can cause health problems or make existing health problems worse. It can affect your relationships and your performance at school and work. Stress often can make people depressed and irritable.
Everyone has stress, but some have more than others. Take caregivers, for example. They must deal with all of the day-to-day stressors of life plus all the stress of being a caregiver and a cheerleader to their loved one. They especially need to build themselves a support system for their physical and emotional well-being during this stressful time in their lives. Caregivers experience stress that makes them feel physically and emotionally exhausted.
How can you deal with it all? Get on an exercise routine and learn coping techniques. Take a break from whatever is causing you stress and do something enjoyable. Try to get away, even if only for a few hours. You can practice meditation and learn other relaxation skills. Don’t neglect your spiritual life, which can be very helpful and comforting at a stressful time. Try to get some support from friends and family. Join an online support group. Here’s one for Cancer Caregivers to request to join so that they can share their concerns with each other: Cancer Caregivers Mutual Support Group.
Say no when you need to. Ask for help, so you don’t feel like you are carrying a burden by yourself. Surround yourself with inspiration and encouragement—inspirational books, inspirational quotes, and inspirational wall hangings. Eat a proper diet, and get enough sleep. Keep a journal and vent about your stressors, as well as plan how to overcome them. Make it a priority to have a Stress Management Plan. Just the act of doing something positive to start taking action will start to relieve you of some stress.