Managing Caregiver Stress Part One


Eldercare is a deeply fulfilling gift in my life, nourishing me with heartfelt connections and enriching my perspective.  I cherish precious moments spent in the company of people nearing the end of their lives.  Even so, I have challenging days when I call on effective strategies to access extra reserves of patience.  If you can relate, I know you'll appreciate these stress management tips for caregivers designed to empower your life.

  • Breathe
  • Exercise
  • Anchor a positive emotion

Harness Your Breath

Anytime I realize I am tense, I check my breathing.  Chances are good I have reverted to quick, shallow breaths in response to stress.  My first step is to deepen my breaths and slow them down.  Breathing in to a count of 7 and out to a count of 11 is very calming.  I repeat this until I am more relaxed and ready to resume my eldercare responsibilities.

Exercise Stress Away in Just One Minute

We all know that consistent exercise is one of the healthiest choices we can make.  Just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week brings proven stress reducing benefits.  On hectic days when I can't find the time to work out, I rely on this 1 minute stress relieving exercise.  Instead of trying to relax, do the opposite.  Tense all the muscles in your body as tightly as possible.  Hold that tension for 30 seconds, then let go to trigger a relaxation response.

Anchor a Positive Emotion

I love this tool from Neuro-Linguistic Programming that helps me access positive emotions anytime.

Remember a time when you were completely happy.   Close your eyes, see that moment in your mind and step right into the event.  Hear the sounds, feel your feelings, and notice the details from that event with all your senses.  Right when you feel "filled up" in a very positive way; "anchor" the good feelings by firmly squeezing one of your earlobes with your thumb and forefinger.  Do this each day for at least 5 days.

Afterward, you will be able to reach up, squeeze your earlobe during a stressful moment and feel better fast.  I repeat this anchoring process regularly to maintain the effectiveness of this technique.

Share your favorite stress management tips for caregivers by commenting on this blog.  I value your ideas and encourage your contribution to our eldercare community!

-- Christy Cuellar-Wentz