8 Steps to Overcoming Caregiver Stress

8 Steps to Overcoming Caregiver Stress

Our facial expressions reveal so much to those around us, and if you’re feeling an unusual level of stress, well-meaning friends and family will certainly pick up on it, perhaps encouraging you to simply, “Cheer up, buttercup!” In reality, of course, it takes much more than a few words to turn our mood around.

Yet recent research does support the idea of positive thinking as a way to reduce levels of anxiety and depression that can arise when we’re overloaded with stress – something crucial for busy family caregivers to take to heart to reduce the potential for burnout.

Judith Moskowitz, lead psychologist in the study who subsequently developed a program to combat the downward spiral of emotions so common in those providing care for a loved one, explains, “We’re not saying don’t be sad or upset about what’s going on. But we know people can experience positive emotions alongside that negative emotion, and that positive emotion can help them cope better.” 

The core techniques in her program include the following:

  • Keep a journal of things for which you’re thankful – even the little things.
  • Identify at least one positive occurrence every day.
  • Share about that occurrence with friends and family on social media.
  • Set one new goal each day, and keep track of your progress in reaching it.
  • Identify one of your strengths and think about how you’re utilizing that strength.
  • Perform one daily small act of kindness for another.
  • Think of a negative event, and then find a way to view it in a positive light.
  • Engage in focused breathing and mindfulness to restore a sense of calm.

For those providing care for a loved one with dementia, the need to focus on positives can be even more vital to effectively manage caregiver stress. Family caregivers who participated in a recent 5-week study in which the effectiveness of these coping skills were evaluated reported a decrease in depression scores of 16%, and a decrease in anxiety of 14%.

In addition to the techniques above, it’s important for family caregivers to avoid isolating themselves and trying to manage their caregiving duties solo, which can quickly lead to caregiver burnout and other serious health risks. Partnering with a professional in-home care agency, like Amy’s Helping Hands, is the perfect solution towards achieving a healthier life balance – both for family caregivers and the seniors in their care.

Life is indeed stressful, but we can help! Contact the Ontario senior care experts at Amy’s Helping Hands for the trusted in-home care services that allow you time to focus on self-care and quality time with those you love.