1 in 3 adults in the US provide care to another adult as an “informal” Caregiver. In many cases, this Caregiver is also caring for other family members such as a spouse or children and juggling outside responsibilities such as a career. The outcome is often extreme levels of Caregiver stress that then manifests into burnout.
Signs of Caregiver Stress are:
- Feeling constantly overwhelmed or worried
- Loosing interest in things you once enjoyed
- Becoming easily irritated or angry
- Frequent headaches, pain or physical ailments
- Feeling exhausted no matter how much sleep you get
Studies show that being proactive about mindfulness and physical health make huge impacts on our ability to manage stress. But let’s be honest…when we’re “in the moment”, all we can focus on is immediate relief. Here are 5 things you can do RIGHT NOW to lower your stress levels:
- Exercise: physical activity bumps up the production of brain’s “feel good” neurotransmitters called endorphins. It’s the reason behind the “runners high”. Just 30 minutes of movement will make a huge impact on mindset and stress level. Take a walk, some chair yoga or stretching or something more vigorous if you can manage it. Something is better than nothing.
- Breathing Exercise: Your brain naturally associates deep breathing with relaxation. Studies show that breathing exercises immediately lower heart rate and calms the nervous system. Try the 478 Technique: inhale through the nose for 4 counts, hold your breath for 7 counts, exhale completely through your mouth for 8 counts.
- Gratitude Routine: Studies show that focusing attention on gratitude stimulates neurotransmitters in the brain to release dopamine and serotonin which promote feelings of contentment. If possible, grab a Gratitude Journal and list 3 things you are grateful for in that moment. If that’s not possible, just taking 3-5 minutes to think of as many things as possible for that you’re grateful for will help tremendously.
- Put on music: Music can transport you to another time and place, and that’s exactly what you need when you’re feeling overwhelmed! Music can lower blood pressure and heart rate and create a shift in mood. We all have a song or 2 that we can’t help but smile when we put it on. What’s yours?
- Try Aromatherapy: Studies show that essential oils calm the nervous system, lower blood pressure and change brain waves to a more relaxed state. When inhaled, they affect the limbic system of the brain which are linked to emotion, breathing, memory and heart rate. Try putting some Lavender, Cedarwood or Frankincense into a diffuser and see how you feel!