As a caregiver, you need to pay attention to your emotional and mental well-being. Caregiving can trigger feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. In many cases, your personal well-being depends on finding ways to relieve caregiver stress.
You probably already know a few of the most popular methods used to fight caregiver stress. But you might not be familiar with the strategies listed below. So, the next time you’re feeling stressed out by caregiving, try one of following unexpected ways to relieve caregiver stress…
1. Chew Gum
If caregiver stress has you feeling like you’re ready to burst, the best thing to do might be to grab a pack of bubblegum. One study from the Cardiff University School of Psychology found that chewing gum significantly improved the moods of stressed out study participants.
2. Pat Yourself on the Back
There’s no better pick-me-up than being congratulated on a job well done. Unfortunately, many times when we could use a pat on the back, either there’s nobody there to provide it or nobody thinks to give us one. So, if you’re feeling stressed and need someone to say that you’ve done a good job, don’t hesitate to be the one who says it. Research shows that self-recognition of good work is an effective way to combat stress.
3. Inflate a Balloon
When caregiver stress has you on the verge of blowing up, try reaching for a balloon. Inflating a regular party balloon forces you to slow down your breathing and use long, deep breaths. In other words, it’s the perfect way to make yourself practice controlled breathing, a technique that’s proven to relieve stress and anxiety.
4. Perform an Act of Kindness
As caregivers, we give so much of ourselves every day that it might seem like overkill to give any more. But small acts of kindness and charity are effective methods for relieving caregiver stress and other negative feelings. Avoid overextending yourself by focusing on small and spontaneous selfless acts, like opening the door for a stranger or paying it forward at your local coffee shop.
5. Take Up Knitting or Crochet
Knitting and crochet have a lot more to offer than many people suspect. These hobbies don’t just result in warm scarves, comfy sweaters, and keepsake blankets — they also come with clear emotional health benefits. Studies, surveys, and anecdotal evidence all point to the stress-fighting benefits of needlework, which experts say “can induce a relaxed state like that associated with meditation and yoga.”
6. Spend Time with Nature
The healing powers of the natural world don’t just come in the form of herbal remedies. Simply being near plant-life has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, plus a host of additional health benefits, including lower blood pressure and increased attentiveness. So, try refreshing your mood with a leisurely stroll through a local park or nearby woods. If you can’t go outside, try bringing nature indoors with easy-to-care-for plants like a jade, pothos, aloe, or philodendron.
7. Wash the Dishes
Most people think of household chores as a great way to increase — not decrease — stress levels. So, it might surprise you to learn that washing the dishes is considered an excellent stress-busting activity. There’s just one catch. Scientists have found that dishwashing only decreases stress if you focus your mind on the activity at hand. If you let your thoughts drift, the stress will stick around.
8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Acids
Many family caregivers will already be familiar with the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Doctors frequently recommend omega-3 rich foods, which promote cardiovascular health and help combat cognitive decline later in life. But omega-3 acids have other benefits, too. Omega-3s have a number of emotional health benefits, including improved resiliency against stress.
Of course, if you’re looking for ways to relieve caregiver stress, there’s no need to take an unexpected route. Stress-busters like physical exercise, daily meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, joining a caregiver support group, and hiring respite care services are all popular strategies for reducing caregiver stress.