Curb caregiver stress

November 8, 2016

Don’t forget to laugh! The Mayo Clinic says laughing not only improves your mood, but can reduce stress and even improve your immune system!

Don’t forget to laugh! The Mayo Clinic says laughing not only improves your mood, but can reduce stress and even improve your immune system!

Being a home care provider is a rewarding job. As caregivers, we do work we can be proud of, in a job that benefits our families and communities. Without home care workers, many of our friends and loved ones would be uprooted from their homes and placed in institutions.

But are we caring for ourselves enough? Take a second and think about the last time you did something that was just for you.

According to the Office on Women’s Health in the U.S Department of Heath and Human Services, some stress can be good because it can help us handle and conquer challenges. However, long-term stress can actually cause health problems like depression and anxiety, which can put us at a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.

Susana Flint from Riverside County provides care for her 86-year-old mother Margarita, who lives with Alzheimer’s and dementia.” One moment, she can be the sweetest person and then seconds later, she will throw something at me and start yelling from out of nowhere.” Said Susana. “It’s the most devastating part of caring for her.”

Exercise has been shown to reduce stress – just ask these UDW caregivers who go for walks together by Chollas Lake in San Diego County.

Exercise has been shown to reduce stress – just ask these UDW caregivers who go for walks together by Chollas Lake in San Diego County.

The unpredictable nature of her mother’s condition can be stressful for Susana, but even with limited time between caring for her mom and attending school, Susana finds time for herself.

“Old movies are my favorite,” she said. “I love psychological thrillers, suspense, drama, and anything in black and white. I also love to get a pedicure in those massage chairs.”

We can’t stop caring for our clients, but we can start taking care of ourselves. In fact, self-care is one of the #1 recommended ways to prevent and relieve caregiver stress. And as it turns out, UDW caregivers have tons of great self-care strategies:

“When I need to relax, I enjoy bike riding, going to the mountains, and watching baseball.” -Teresa Sefried, Placer County

“It’s so critical to find time- even if it means getting up early to do activities that help me relax or finding time to go to a bookstore, or relax in a quiet spot in my house.” -Marquita Thomas, Riverside County

“I read books, I also go to the gym to work out the stress whenever I get the chance.” -Corie Crowson, Merced County, UDW District 4 Chair

“I’m an artist so when I have some spare time, I like to paint, sculpt, write, and play my flute to relax. It’s very helpful.”-Hazim Al-Bustani, Orange County

But reducing caregiver stress doesn’t stop there. Here are more tips that can improve your health and well-being:

  • Ask for and accept help. 
  • Talk to other caregivers or form a support group. Know that you are not alone.
  • Make time for you – you can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.
  • Meditate. Some caregivers said they use meditation apps on their phone to stay centered and calm throughout the day.
  • Get active. Get enough sleep when you can. Eat foods that sustain and nourish your body.
  • Stay up-to-date on your own doctors’ appointments. Tell your doctor that you are a caregiver, and ask for stress relief advice.
  • Attend a UDW membership meeting or even to meet other caregivers and share stories and tips.

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