Hectic schedules, pressures on the job, and raising a family can make stress unavoidable. If your job is caring for the elderly, the personal and compassionate nature of the work can add even more stress to your life and become a recipe for exhaustion and illness. However, practicing some of the following anti-stress strategies may help to reduce stress on the job and in your personal life as well.
Create joy and happiness. It’s completely normal and natural for the illness and disability you encounter every day to drain you mentally and emotionally. When you feel hopeless about your client’s situation or negative about your ability to make a difference, acknowledge those feelings. Realize they are normal and then make a mindful effort to think positively again. Let yourself laugh about tiny things and do one small thing every day that makes you happy.
Make time for yourself. To be an excellent caregiver requires being the best “you” that you can be. It’s not selfish to do something that makes you happy; it’s an investment in being able to do your job well. Spend an hour reading a book. Go to the movies with friends. Even if you have a busy family at home, make the time to do something you love. It will make you happier with them as well!
The power of sleep. We are a nation of sleep-deprived people. As a caregiver, you must be sharp and alert. Give yourself the gift of sleep. Take short naps. They can keep your energy high and your mind clear. Go to bed! Make sure you get seven to eight hours of sleep every night and if you’re tired at the end of the day, go to bed earlier. You have young children? Put them to bed early as well, or tuck them in with you to get a head start on the night’s sleep.
Take a break. If you worked in an office you would take regular coffee breaks. Caring for your elderly client in your home may not seem conducive to that, but you can make it so. If your client doses off, sit down in sight of them and enjoy a cup of tea. Pick up a book of poetry and read a short passage. Stand near an open window and smell the air or look outside and enjoy the view. Turn on the radio and listen to your favorite music. Be present in that moment of time and enjoy a short moment of rejuvenation.
Be realistic. This is one profession where you need to accept your limitations as a caring, giving human being. You are going to get tired and become frustrated that you cannot make your client feel better. Accept these things. Know that you do your very best every day. Realize that you are doing this important work because you want to and because you are good at it. There are days when that it is enough.
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