Caregiver stress is at an all-time high.  If you are a caregiver, you absolutely must put your own health first because you will not be able to care for another unless you care for yourself first.  Following are some of the ways we dealt with stress as we cared for Mom in her battle with the tortuous disease of dementia.

  1. Get enough sleep.  Take many catnaps during the day if you can.  Sleep is not negotiable.  Get it any way you can because you may suffer exhaustion and depression without it, which will not be good for anyone.

  2. Do not let guilt consume you.  It is perfectly normal to experience guilt.  But your positive self-talk will go a long way to help you combat that feeling.

  3. Exercise.  Or try yoga or meditation.  Make it a point to do stretches every morning when you get out of bed.  Even 10 minutes of stretching or exercising will loosen you up and get you ready for the day.

  4. Eat the right kinds of food in the right amounts.

  5. Laugh.  For no reason at all, just start laughing out loud.  Or watch a funny movie.

  6. Journal.  This can be a lifesaver.  Try to take at least five minutes every day to jot down your feelings.  It will help, I promise.  Or journal things or people you are grateful for.

  7. Bake a cake, pie, or cookies for a friend, neighbor, or relative.  This will get your mind off of the stress caregiving may bring.

  8. Do housework.  Pick a room or an area and get it organized.  Does your laundry room need a good cleaning and reorganization?  Do it!  Declutter stuff.  Clean out closets.  You will be glad you did.  It is excellent therapy!

  9. Find a show on TV, close yourself off in your room, and watch it.  This is a definite refresher.

  10. If you like to shop, head out.  Even window shopping will give you a respite from your caregiving responsibility.

  11. Go have lunch with one of your best friends, preferably one who understands what you are going through.

  12. Have fun making smoothies.  Oftentimes, most times, this is the only thing an ill loved one will ingest.  Try not to stress out figuring out what to feed them.  When my mom was suffering from the ravages of dementia, getting on the nutrition bandwagon was not something I was worried about.

  13. Keep your self-talk positive.  Tell yourself on a daily basis that things will get better (because they will).  This is not a life sentence for you.  Whatever you say to yourself, keep it positive.  Remind yourself daily what you have to be grateful for.

  14. Have a good cry.  Scream into a pillow (please do not let your loved one hear you).  Get it all out of your system, regroup, and start again.

  15. Have someone (friend, relative, neighbor, professional caregiver) come to give you a respite.  Go take in a movie.  In my extremely stressful job as a court reporter, going to the movie was my favorite activity to do.  I could block everything out, even for two hours.

  16. Build a jigsaw puzzle.  This is not only good for boosting the brain, it also takes your mind off your responsibilities while trying to figure out which piece goes where.

  17. Grab a glass of wine, light some candles, and take a long, warm bath (with bubbles).

  18. I enjoy scrapbooking for my grandchildren.  It is very cathartic to scrapbook, especially for those you love.

  19. Purchase a few plants to keep in your home.  Taking care of plants and watching them grow and bloom sometimes puts things in perspective.

  20. Make a to-do list.  Seriously, if you do this, it is instant gratification because you know what’s coming and you can mark things off as you do them.   Very rewarding!

  21. Take a “me” day.  Go to the spa.  Get a facial, have your hair and makeup done.  Get a massage.  If this is not feasible for you financially, do it yourself.  Or have a girlfriend or sister come over and do it for you.  Relaxing!

  22. Stay socially active with friends and family.

  23. Take caregiving one day at a time.  If you try to plan ahead for your ill loved one, you will stress trying to stick to future plans.  Caregiving is a journey that changes with every single day.

  24. Look up at the night sky, the stars and moon, and just reflect on all that is happening in your life at this moment.  Pray and be grateful that you woke up.  There are many who won’t.

  25. Above all, keep your composure at all times around your ill loved one.  They may not remember things you say, but they will remember how you made them feel.

Blessings to you!