Caregiver stress is an inherent part of the task, but can be particularly problematic at the holidays.
Caregiver stress originates from many different sources. There are of course many physical triggers but there are also other sources of stress that originate from within that may not be as readily apparent and therefore harder to remedy.
Here are 10 tips that can help to address some of the hidden sources of stress. These tips are useful for everyone not just caregivers!
1. Our perception is a major factor in stress. Our perception is based on the totality of our life experience. So each of us has our own perception of any given situation. It can be helpful before responding to another’s request Ask questions of others regarding possible solutions rather than than direct “rescuing” with solutions, answers or problem solving, Ask, “What might happen if ..?” “How could you approach remedying that …?” “What would you like to do about that?”
3. Ask of the person being cared for as well as others involved in care: “How can I help?” Especially ask the caregiver this question if you are not the primary source of care!
4. As a caregiver talk to a friend, a confidante… tell your story, how it is for you…express the feelings that you have and especially the ones that are not appropriate or possible to discuss with the one you are caring for… having a witness to your story or experience can be powerful by itself but it often also helps to develop insight that may not have been easily achieved as long as everything remained inside.
5. Take time to meditate and be quiet. You need to recharge your batteries to remain healthy, sane and effective!
6. Be aware of good boundaries. Examine yours and others and learn how to make them healthy.
7. See the family story as drama. Take the perspective that you are watching a movie or play, it helps to take you out of strong emotions that are so compelling and drag you down.
8. Observe what is being mirrored. Ask what this person place or situation is teaching—or can teach you…helps to put a constructive spin on it. Mirroring is not always about the exact behavior being in you—-it can be a trigger for something you need to develop. E.G. bullying can be a trigger to develop better boundaries and learn to set good limits VS you holding bullying energy in you.
9. Allow ALL your feelings. Your feelings need to be honored not judged. Have a process that lets you feel them and then release them. Feelings tend not to be easily released until they are felt and processed.
10. Appreciate the caregiver. If you are a family member, friend or professional involved in family care, remember to appreciate the caregiver’s efforts. If you are a caregiver, acknowledge and appreciate yourself!
If you are involved in care-giving, what are some of the ways you have found that help deal with the complex interpersonal dynamics and stress?