Ideas for Reducing Built Up Stress Within the Family
Taking care of the elderly in your family can be extremely stressful. Despite your best intentions and the close bond you share with them, you can begin to feel under pressure, often leading to health problems of your own.
The dual pressure of handling your own work, family, and also caring for your elderly parents can take a big toll on your physical, mental and emotional health as it leaves you with little time to take care of yourself.
The stress of caring for your elderly parents can become a serious issue if not addressed in a timely manner.
Signs of stress
The first step in handling built-up stress in the family is to recognize the signs of the stress. Depression is, of course, the first sign that you’re under stress. If you’re constantly feeling sad or have become prone to frequent bouts of crying, take it as a sign of stress.
Depression can also lead to a strong sense of anxiety and withdrawal. This can get manifested in a perpetual feeling of having insufficient time for yourself or a general anxiety about the future. You may also not want to participate in your favorite activities or even to spend time with friends and family.
Loss of concentration and insomnia are other signs that you’re under stress. Even when you sleep, you may wake up in the middle of a nightmare. Since you’re constantly thinking of your parents and the things you need to do for them, everything else takes a back seat. So you may find yourself unable to focus on work or other activities such as eating. Irregular eating habits can, in turn, lead to sudden weight gain or loss.
As a stressed caregiver, you may also begin to feel perpetually tired or exhausted. It may become increasingly difficult for you to get out of your bed in the morning – a sure sign that you need to do something about it. The helplessness and depression linked with caregiving at times translate into anger, often at the person you’re caring for.
You may end up yelling at your loved one more frequently and even get angry at other family members (perhaps because you feel they’re not helping out enough). Physical health problems such as catching ‘flu or colds more frequently are also seen among caregivers as they stop taking care of themselves.
Reducing the stress
Once you’ve learned to recognize the symptoms of stress, it’s important to tackle the problem as early as possible. Remaining under stress for long isn’t going to help you or your loved one. So how do you go about minimizing the caregiving stress?
Though not easy, it’s possible to alleviate some of the stress you may be facing due to constant care of your elderly parents. Here are 14 tips for reducing stress:
- Take breaks by handing over the caregiving task to someone else. You need to switch off from the constant pressure of caregiving to be able to counter the resultant stress and to rejuvenate.
- Don’t overdo it. Yes, it’s possible that part of the stress is because you’re overdoing the care. Learn to say `no’ to things that aren’t feasible or practical, and learn to identify the signs when your loved one becomes unreasonably demanding.
- Don’t wallow in guilt. Nobody is perfect, so there’ll be things you won’t be able to manage despite your best efforts.
- The financial strain of caring for your elderly parents can also contribute to your stress. See how best you can reduce the cost and take financial help from other family members, if need be.
- Try to control your reactions, particularly anger. Perhaps you can join a support group for caregivers. Sharing your concerns and problems with others who’re in a similar situation may help.
- Find time for yourself and for doing, at least, some of the activities that you’ve always enjoyed. It may be exercising, cooking, watching TV or simply taking a long and luxurious bath.
- Exercise and proper meals are a great way of cutting down on your stress levels.
- Follow a planned schedule. Take one task at a time and complete it before moving on to the next.
- Set personal health goals and visit your doctor regularly for check-ups.
- Get out of the house and spend time with yourself and with your friends every day.
- You may also find positive thinking or meditation useful in such circumstances.
- If handling the responsibility alone is too much, assign some of it to other family members.
- Be frank and open with your loved ones. Let them know what they should or shouldn’t expect. Communication, as we all know, can be a big stress-buster in a tense situation.
- Find ways to boost your spirits.
Just remember that you simply can’t afford to burn out while taking care of your elderly parents. Once you assume the role of a caregiver, you’ll be faced with a lot of changes in your life. Household schedules will be disrupted, your workload will seem to be perpetually piling up and there’ll also be the added financial pressure to cope with.
This can be extremely stressful, especially in the long-term. The physical and emotional ramifications of such stress can be devastating indeed. Increasing irritability, a sense of hopelessness and helplessness, perpetual exhaustion and lack of energy can soon begin to get to you in such circumstances. It’s vital, for your own good and that of your loved ones, to take immediate steps at the first sign of trouble.
Thank you for reading our blog. If you have found some good ways to release stress, please share by leaving a comment below.