So, caregivers, we all recognize how important it is to take care of self! Who hasn’t read articles about this? Who hasn’t talked to their doctors about how important this is? What about the gazillion times you’ve had to listen to advice from friends and family and others about what you should be doing to stay healthy? How many times have you found yourself uttering … “I know, ok…I’ll start doing yoga on tomorrow?” But then, how many of you have already tried to start into a self-care plan only to abandon it? Remember the advice when flying: in an emergency, put your face mask on first so you can help others? As a caregiver, you need to be in optimal health in order to care for your family member or other loved one.

I’m somewhere in the middle: there was a time when I didn’t think about or take care of myself at all because I was too preoccupied with taking care of everyone else in my life. But then I found myself in trouble—all hell broke loose when I ended up sick from the effects of prolonged stress, with no clue as what to do. Lesson learned: take care of me. I’m heading in that direction!Stressed Out Caregiver

The RAND Report provides a terrific, and very thorough overview of many of the major issues that military caregivers face as they carry out their responsibilities. One of the top concerns is stress, burnout. As caregivers, we need to pay special attention to the constant stressors in our lives: unless we are always mindful of how we spend our time, of how we treat ourselves, we can easily become so absorbed in our intensive responsibilities that we forget about our own needs and health. Out of the 5.5 million military caregivers in the US that the report profiles, I would imagine that there are quite a few who have worked out a solid daily routine of meditation, exercise, or some other form of relaxation to help them avoid the potentially dangerous results of stress and anxiety. But some of us are not there yet. And, for those of us that are not there yet; for those caregivers that are there and have some advice to give; for those that are somewhere in between and could use a good kick in the butt to get moving, this blog post is for you!

I’ve recently been forced to develop a plan of care for myself or face starting a medical regime to help relieve anxiety and panic attacks and cut down on the frequent medical interruptions that have become too routine in my life. I simply hadn’t been paying close enough attention to how I was feeling and reacting to the mounting demands in my life and realized not long ago that I wasn’t feeling myself at all. Stress can manifest itself in a number of common symptoms, including headaches, insomnia, dizziness, digestive complaints, panic attacks, and either lack of appetite or increased appetite, and it’s important to recognize the symptoms before you can wrestle with the cause. If ignored, stress can also lead to much more serious ailments. I’m a firm believer in seeking competent medical care, especially if you don’t know the cause of a particular set of symptoms. Do that first to make sure that you aren’t facing a serious medical issue!

Choosing to follow a medical regime for the reduction of anxiety is a personal decision that you need to discuss with your doctor. However, there are other options that you might want to consider, as I have. Whenever possible, I’ve always preferred not to take medication, especially for stress and anxiety, in order to avoid probable side effects, some of which can be debilitating. Instead, whenever possible, I try to take a more “natural” approach to relieving stress, particularly since research has shown for decades that exercise and similar activities work exceedingly well.

To start on my self-care plan, I’ve seen a physician to make sure that my concerns are, indeed, only anxiety and stress. I’m now developing a dual approach: I’m focusing on the possible causes of my anxiety and panic attacks as these arise, while, at the same time, I work to alleviate the symptoms. In doing that, I’m exploring ways that physicians, psychologists, and others recommend for reducing stress and anxiety. I’ll be developing a self-care plan for myself based on my research, which I will share with you in an upcoming blog.

My invitation to you, as readers of this blog, is to also share helpful suggestions so that we can learn from each other. Also, I invite you to subscribe to this blog. This way, you will receive an email each time posts are made to the blog and can make comments to new posts! Your feedback and comments are always welcome!! Subscribing to this blog is easy: be sure to check your email after you sign up to confirm your subscription!


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