There is a substantial body of evidence about the effects stress can have on your body, both short term, and long term.  When a person is placed in a stressful situation, there is a biochemical response in the body involving a plethora of hormones, and these hormones can have lasting effect on the body and the mind.

[quote_left]When it comes to long term stress, you must be able to properly cope with, and alleviate some of the stresses in order to remain healthy. [/quote_left]

Recent evidence has been presented showing the effects of persistently higher levels of some of these stress-response hormones as a result of long term stress, being extremely detrimental to cognitive and physical health. It has been shown to be a significant risk factor for stroke as well as implicated in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Put simply, when someone experiences long term stress (i.e. caring for a loved one) it can have hazardous effects on the person’s body and mind if not properly dealt with.  When it comes to long term stress, you must be able to properly cope with, and alleviate some of the stresses in order to remain healthy.  Below are some helpful hints on how to better cope with, and alleviate the stresses of being a caregiver.

  1. Know yourself; be able to identify when you are beginning to feel the effects of stress and strain on your body. Do you get tense? Do you clinch your teeth? Are you more tired? Do you feel hot? Do you have an upset stomach? All of these are physiological responses to stress, but you must be able to identify the symptoms, to then be able to look back and identify the causes of stress. After you are able to identify the cause, then you can work on heading off the onset of anxiety in advance.
  2. Ask For Help; you are not alone being a caregiver. Even in the absence of family members or friends, there is help available. Contact your local Area Agency on Ageing and Disability for information on support groups and programs.
  3. Stay Active; regular exercise and daily activity allow the body a chance to return hormone levels to ‘normal’ and relieve the physiological stress response. Additionally, daily exercise regimens give your body an outlet for built up stress and energy. Don’t hold it in!
  4. Get Some Rest; it is essential to get enough sleep when under stressful situations. Sleep is the body’s time to reset and relax, time to rebuild its reserves, clear out excess, and prepare for the next round. Most experts suggest 6-8 hours of restful sleep per day for adults is needed for proper long term health.
  5. Stress Less; it is easier said than done, but don’t sweat the small stuff. There is no need to worry about many of the small daily issues that may arise, which in reality, often can be easily resolved over the course of time. Instead concentrate on the big picture, and plan for the future the best you can. If you have a plan in advance when a situation arises, stress is less likely to arise.
  6. Try Alternative Coping Methods: don’t be afraid to branch out. Many caregivers find other ways to alleviate stress. Some people find meditation helpful. Acupuncture and homeopathic and holistic medicine is on the rise. Find anything that works for you to help deal with everyday situations, and don’t be afraid to involve the loved one you are caring for, they have stress too!
  7. Find Time for yourself; it cannot be stressed enough, you must find time for yourself. You need time to unwind and have your own personal time. The rest of the world can wait, it has to. Schedule time for yourself each week, and stick to it.

In general, find what works and go with it. Everyone is different, and everyone deals with stress in different ways, so find what works for you, and stick with it. For more information on how Centennial Adultcare Center can assist you and your loved one, whether it is a few hours of Respite Care at home, or a regular daily participation in Adult Day Health Care, call 615-383-3399, or contact us today!