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Posted: December 01, 2008

Practical Caregiving

Getting a Handle on Your Own Stress

It seems like everyone is so stressed out today. With the world economy the way it is, even the wealthy are concerned about their huge losses. They haven't lost everything, but some of you may have. And on top of that, you have the added burden of caring for your loved one who depends on you. 

The economy is something that affects you dramatically, of course, but individually you can't do anything about it. However, you can do something about your own stress level. Reducing your stressors will make your life much better; left unchecked, it can become overwhelming. So today, let's look at effective ways to reduce the stress in your life.

Without a doubt, a lack of money can be one of the biggest stressors in anyone’s life. Reviewing your finances can be very frustrating, but you can’t ignore it. Here’s a plan to help you. Write down what you have coming in, and write down all the necessary expenses. Add what comes in and what goes out in separate rows. And then ask yourself:

 

·         Do you have more coming in than you have going out? If you do, you are blessed; not everyone does.

·         Do you have more going out than you have coming in? If this is the case, you must reassess where the money is going. 

·         Are there ways to cut down on the groceries and have enough and still eat healthy? 

·         What about gas for the car? Would it be cheaper to take a bus or some other means of transportation that's available in your area? 

·         What about medicines? With the major chains offering $4 prescriptions for generic brands, you might be able to save a lot by using generic brands. 

 

I obviously don't know how you spend your money; you're the only one who knows that. That’s why you are the one who needs to seriously look at it. What changes can you make and still have everything you and your loved one need?

 

Trying to do too many things also can trigger stress. How can you simplify your life? You can cut down on some activities, or have someone else perform an obligation. Along with this, take a break three or four times during the day. This doesn't have to be a long break; it just needs to be five or 10 minutes when you stop worrying and rushing around.

 

One thing I didn't do that I want you all to do is find a way to get some exercise every day. It is very detrimental to you if you don't. I found that out the hard way. Try doing something for 15 to 30 minutes every day. Take a walk. Exercise with an exercise CD. Whatever you do, make sure you do it consistently. Exercise helps get rid of stress and is vitally important to your health. You will take better care of your loved one, if you will exercise and take breaks.

 

Something I recently learned is to keep a stress journal. Daily, I write down what causes me to be stressed. As I look back over my journal every few days, I can begin to see patterns of what causes me to be stressed. You may be surprised that the cause isn’t what you thought it was. You will either be able to avoid the cause completely, or your attitude will change so that it does not bother you so much.

 

Prioritize things. On a piece of paper, separate the day into three or four time blocks.  Write down what is most important first in that time period, then the next important thing, etc. Write the most important thing on the top of the list in that box and check it off when it's done. Continue with the next thing on the list, then the next and so on, until they are done. If they don't finish, don't worry about it. The most important things got done, or should have. You should also write down times for you to exercise and take a break. They should be near the top of the lists.

 

Instead of thinking how bad things are, look for all the good you see every day. You will be amazed how your attitude improves – and stress level drops -- after you do this for a few days. Life will look so much better to you!

 

The final things are points you have heard all your life. Eat a good breakfast. Eat a good lunch. Do not eat a huge meal at night. Make sure you eat enough of the right foods to be healthy. A diet of junk food will not make you healthy. Don't drink too many drinks with caffeine in them. Caffeine tends to make us more nervous. And, of course, get plenty of rest. It really does make a difference!

 

You may be frustrated right now. We all are to some degree. But if you will try the above suggestions for two weeks, I can assure you that you will feel better and you will be able to think better. Your circumstances may stay the same, but you will be able to handle problems that come up much better. And – importantly -- your loved one will see the difference, and this difference will help them to be happier.

© 2008 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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Please send me your questions, comments and issues regarding the practical side of caregiving at ASKJEAN@caregivershome.com, and remember to take advantage of our professionals and experts in the Ask an Expert section of our website. You'll find it in the left column on our homepage.

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