Reduce StressFor years, I thought of losing weight every January. I subscribed to health magazines, bought exercise videos, new water bottles, and flattering fitness clothing. I would lose about five pounds each January, gain three back in February and three more in March.

This year, if you must make a resolution, resolve to do something that all caregivers should do: reduce the stress in your life. We’re going to share some effective ways to help you do just that, and by following these tips, you may well see less stress and anxiety in the coming weeks and months.

Rethink.

There is so much to consider as a caregiver, and it is easy to let our thoughts turn toward the anxious, negative path. We won’t be able to get it all done. Mom is going to be so angry when we talk about taking the car away. The bills need to be paid, and there may not be enough this month to take care of it all. What if this, what if that, what if…?

Our minds run scripts that can stick in our heads and cause us to focus on the negative, the fearful. But this type of thinking creates more stressors than we need to have in our life. The fact is, what we are worried about may not actually come to pass. Mom may be relieved to not drive anymore. There may be enough money to cover the bills and have a little left over. If it doesn’t get all done, the universe will not, in fact, explode.

Try to focus on what needs to be done, and hope for the best. The path of negative thinking saps us of much energy, and as family caregivers, we need every bit of energy we have.

Reduce.

As a caregiver, the responsibilities seem endless. You clean, run errands, work, prepare meals, provide transportation, take care of finances, assist with bathing and dressing, monitor safety. Family caregivers almost always have much too much to do. When we are overextended, even enjoyable things can become stressful to us.

It’s time to turn the page, literally. Write down the things you need to get accomplished on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, and cut out or delegate tasks as much as possible. This is not the time to be proud; it’s the time to let your well-meaning friends and family take on part of the load.

Relax.

Relaxation is not a treat reserved for special occasions. It is a necessary process we can use to cope with caregiver stress. This coming year, take time to practice relaxation techniques. Deep breathing and muscle relaxation are just two examples of simple ways to relax. There are many more that require little time investment and are easy to learn.

Try to set aside 10 minutes twice a day for relaxation. The payoff will be worth the time investment.

We hope that all our readers enjoy their coming year, and that it includes plenty of support, lots of laughter, and happy memories that you will cherish.