With April being Stress Awareness Month, this is a great time to consider the stresses associated with caregiving. Senior home care can often be very trying on loved ones who are obliged to care for their elderly parents, and even for professionals who have delivered such care routinely for several years of their careers. In Hernando and elsewhere, there are some tips you can take advantage of to ease those stresses and make caring for the elderly much easier to do, as well as relatively stress-free. It’s worth keeping in mind that if you can reduce or eliminate most of the stresses involved with caregiving, that you can do a much better job of providing quality care for an individual who requires it.
One of the best ways to relieve stress is by controlled deep breathing exercises, because this process increases the level of oxygen in your blood, and that immediately helps you to relax a little. By contrast, when you’re breathing in a shallow manner most of the time, it causes your heart to beat faster and it makes your muscles much tenser, and that intensifies your stress level. When providing care causes your stress level to increase, try placing your hand close to your navel, and inhaling slowly through your nose, while watching your hand move out in unison with your breathing. Hold each breath for several seconds before exhaling, and repeat the process several times until you achieve a more relaxed state.
Use visualization to achieve a calmer state
You might be surprised to hear this, but the mere act of visualizing can actually bring on a calmer state of being for an individual. Anytime you find yourself in a frustrating situation and recognize that tension is rising, try to imagine yourself in a calm, very relaxing situation. Close your eyes and try your best to see, hear, and smell all the various aspects of a calm environment. One popular scenario is to imagine yourself relaxing on a sunny shore, sitting in a beach chair, with soothing waves rolling in across the sand.
Develop a personal mantra
This is another one of those clever little things you can do which doesn’t seem like it should work, but it does. By repeating something highly positive to yourself over and over, it can really help you cope with a stressful situation because it acts like positive reinforcement. For instance, you could say something to yourself like, “This is something I can handle”, or “I am feeling very calm, and I have this under control”. Anything like this which you can make up and repeat to yourself will eventually take hold and will cause your stress level to be reduced.
Make use of self-massage
Everyone is aware that massage can be very soothing and relaxing, and can help you achieve a calmer state of mind. Of course, most of the time you won’t have access to a professional masseuse, but you can still achieve the same basic result by doing self-massage. If you make circular motions with your thumb in the palm of the opposite hand, that can provide some stress relief for whatever situation you’re going through. There are also a number of personal massage devices which you can purchase, which operate on your shoulders, neck, and other body parts to deliver a more relaxed state of being.
Obviously, you may not feel much like smiling when you’re involved in a highly stressful situation, but science tells us that smiling can have the ability of completely reversing stress, and defusing an anxious situation. Even if you have to force yourself to smile, for most people the act of smiling itself is enough to dispel the high stress of any situation and to achieve a much more relaxed state of mind. It’s also much easier for your body to produce a smile than it is to generate a frown, in terms of all the muscle movements necessary for each.
Count to 10
During the course of a day of caregiving for your elderly loved one, there are probably at least a half-dozen times where he or she might get on your nerves and cause your stress level to rise. When this happens, before you do or say something which may cause you to regret it later, it’s better to step away from the situation and allow yourself to reflect on it temporarily. Many people have found that counting to 10, or possibly taking five or six deep breaths, helps to restore your equilibrium, and allows you to calm down before saying or doing something that you wish you hadn’t.
Commit it to paper
If you write down your thoughts about a given situation, it’s almost like you have expelled them from your thinking in order to transfer them to the paper. By writing these things down, it can provide you with a much better perspective on any situation, and it can clarify your thinking. For instance, you could write down all those things that you have the power of changing in a caregiving situation, and then also jot down all those things which you cannot change. When you see these two categories of items side-by-side, it will help you to visualize and understand how you can improve the situation by making little changes within your control. It will also point out to you that there are certain aspects of your caregiving scenario which can’t be changed, and which you should, therefore, quit worrying about.