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Here’s how to not let stress get the best of you when caring for a loved one.

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Caring for a loved one can create a lot of stress. But as a caregiver, it’s important to find ways to relax so stress doesn’t get the best of you.

When you’re stressed, it can be difficult to do all of the tasks required of you as a caregiver. Stress can also get in the way of the rest of your day—making you tired, irritable, moody and unproductive. Although occasional stress is to be expected when caregiving, chronic stress not only makes it hard to get through your day, but it is bad for your health. Unchecked stress can contribute to a number of health problems, from high blood pressure and heart disease to obesity, diabetes and headaches.

Finding ways to effectively relieve stress is important for your physical and mental health. It’s not selfish to take time for yourself, no matter how much others rely on you. It’s a necessary part of caregiving. Reducing stress doesn’t have to be a time-consuming activity. You just need a stress-busting bag of tricks that works for you. Here are 10 stress-busters that may help:

      1. Find “me” time. It’s healthy to spend at least 15 minutes a day just to focus on you. When stress feels like it’s rearing its ugly head, even 5 minutes can help.
      2. Count to 10 and back. When you feel tense, slowly count to 10. Then count backwards.
      3. Breathe deeply. Slow, deep breaths can help you relax. Deep breathing also lowers blood pressure and heart rate.
      4. Meditate. Take a few minutes in a quiet place to concentrate on your breathing and clear your mind. Studies indicate that meditating twice a day may help relieve stress and depression.
      5. Take a walk. Any type of exercise can help relieve stress. Taking a quick walk when tensions rise can get your blood flowing and gives you time to gather your thoughts.
      6. Stretch. Stress and tension wreak havoc on your muscles, so spend a few minutes stretching your shoulders, neck and back throughout the day.
      7. Have a cup of tea. Green tea contains L-theanine, a compound shown to reduce levels of chemicals in the brain linked to stress and anxiety.
      8. Squeeze a stress ball. They’re not called stress balls for nothing! Squeezing one helps relieve tension and stress.
      9. Practice progressive relaxation. Tense and then relax one part of your body at a time. Start with the lower extremities (feet and legs) and work your way up your body.
      10. Do some organizing. Sometimes all it takes to help you relax is to feel like you have things under control. So spend a few minutes organizing the space you’re in to regain order and a sense of control.

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Date Last Reviewed: September 1, 2022

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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