Stress-Busting Tips for Caregivers
Stress-Busting Tips for CaregiversFew things prove more stressful than caring for a loved one with cancer. While doctors handle the cancer treatment, caregivers often manage their patients’ everyday needs — transportation, food, recreation, medications and visits with friends. At the same time, caregivers must deal with feelings of helplessness and frustration as they watch their loved ones fight battles in which they cannot help. Many feel guilty if they focus any attention on themselves.
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, studies have consistently reported higher levels of depressive symptoms and mental health problems among caregivers than among their non-caregiving peers.
But caregivers can learn to manage their stress. For example, talking with a trusted friend or counselor can help caregivers reduce stress, feel less helpless and understand how to respond to their loved ones.
Many of the same methods that help caregivers can apply to anyone facing a stressful situation. Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) offers the following tips:
• Find a treatment center that will help. CTCA’s mind-body medicine team work closely with both patients and caregivers to listen and provide support. CTCA also helps ease stress by coordinating appointments, providing transportation and scheduling travel arrangements and hotel accommodations.
• Ask for and accept help. If another family member is willing to help out, let them ease your burden. Depending on the source of your stress, you should also seek out additional community resources. For example, cancer caregivers can find support groups for both themselves and patients.
• Know your limits. Determine what you can and can’t handle, based on your responsibilities to your family and professional life. If adding another obligation is too much, either say, “No” or find someone with whom to split duties.
• Take care of yourself. Sufficient sleep will help you manage challenges more easily. Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Start exercising — regular activity can help reduce irritability, fatigue and overall stress levels.
• Make time for yourself. Relaxing or doing something that you enjoy — even for a few minutes — can go a long way towards lifting your mood. Caregivers should set aside at least five minutes a day to meditate or simply be still and relax.
For more information, visit www.cancercenter.com.