yogapose

My most recent blog, about why I’m creating a self-care plan (part 1), explains research behind why all caregivers need a similar plan for themselves, as outlined in “Military Caregivers: America’s Hidden Heroes.” In developing my own self-care plan to relieve stress and anxiety, and in exploring way to do this in my demanding life, I’ve come up with the list below. Following are a few suggestions found to relieve the daily stress that comes with life generally, and with the constant demands of caregiving, more specifically. Maybe you have some more tips—please feel free to share:

1. Get plenty of sleep.

female asleep

Getting between 7-8 hours of sleep each night has been shown to optimize health and to help with stress overall. As many studies have shown as well, going to bed earlier and getting up earlier can be helpful, and I have found that it works for me. Some sleep experts suggest that going to bed late can cause one to have trouble falling and/or staying asleep. But the most important consideration is getting the right amount of sleep to optimize health. As I’ve adjusted my sleep schedule, I’ve had more energy , can concentrate better and have been much more productive during the day. According to the RAND study, many caregivers spend more than 40 hours per week caregiving. Add to that, family responsibilities, any work outside of caregiving that is done from or outside the home, including jobs or courses taken toward completing a degree. These extreme demands on our time are always exhausting, regardless of how energetic, organized, efficient, or young we might be.

Sooner or later, such an intense schedule will wear anyone down and compromise their health and overall well-being. Getting the proper amount of sound sleep is imperative to maintaining one’s health. Additionally, some studies show that going to bed earlier helps to maintain a good weight and improve productivity.

2. Seek flexible work hours.

work from home

If you have a job, whether full-time or part-time, consider asking for flexible hours. Although working from home isn’t always possible, doing so whenever possible allows for flexibility in choosing work hours, which is a blessing for caregivers whose schedules can shift unexpectedly on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Examples of such jobs include a remote administrative assistant, an accountant or tax consultant, or an online instructor or tutor. A few online job boards that list work from home opportunities include “Rat Race Rebellion,” “Upwork” (Formerly Elance) and “Flexjobs.” These job sites offer opportunities to apply for careers that allow you to telecommute, including working from home, or find flexible employment. Some of the job boards require a nominal subscription fee.

If you don’t have a home office, try to find a small area in your home for a dedicated work space where you can concentrate on whatever work you need to do. You can set up a small desk in the kitchen perhaps, or turn a closet into a private work space where you can set up your computer and other work-related items. It’s important that you have a private space of your own if possible, away from all distractions. It’s also important for you to be able to feel as if you have some organized routine, or some degree of control over the schedule of your life, as caregiving activities can, if we let them, overwhelm us. They can fairly much take away our sense of self as independent people who are able to function on our own outside of our caregiving activities. Keeping a sense of personal and professional independence is empowering and helps us become even more adept at our caregiving responsibilities. It also helps cut down on stress.

I am fortunate to have a work space in my home where I can focus on my work and school responsibilities. But I have also been determined to close the door and walk away from this space on a daily basis in order to engage in activities that help me reduce stress and anxiety.

female journaling

Caregivers, our lives depend on taking a break from our caregiving and other responsibilities in order to care for ourselves. We all need to show a little tough love toward ourselves—if necessary, set a timer and stop what you’re doing. Taking care of yourself should be part of your daily routine. If you do not do this DAILY and on a regular, ongoing basis, your well-being will suffer.

Meditation, prayer and journaling are also things I have tried. I plan to share ways that taking frequent breaks, exercising, and focusing on health and wellness help me in the next blog post! Feel free to post your comments below. Share suggestions of what helps you relieve stress in your day. What works for you just may help somebody else!! Thanks for your comments…and more to come!

Disclaimer: These suggestions and recommendations are not meant to replace medical advice from a qualified physician. You should always seek the advice of your medical doctor before starting any exercise routine to make sure that you do not have medical issues that might be adversely affected by any physical exertion.

 

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