April is Stress Awareness Month

Sandwich-GenerationCaregiver burnout can be a big problem for individuals caring for a loved one. In our experience, it is the family members or spouse caring for someone who has been involved in a life-altering event that resulted in a spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury. It can also be stressful for family members who are caring for an aging loved one while managing the daily stress in their own lives. These individuals, referred to as the “Sandwich Generation” are caregivers who take on multiple roles in caring for their aging parents and their children, while balancing their careers. Whether you are caring for someone due to a catastrophic injury or caring for an aging loved one, it can take a toll physically, financially and emotionally.

According to the Pew Research Center , nearly half of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent age 65 or older and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child (18 or older). About one-in-seven middle aged adults (15%) are providing financial support to both an again parent and a child.

So what does this mean? Well, nearly half of adults are grouped into this category, and providing simultaneous support in a physical, financial and emotional capacity, to two different generations. This is mind boggling! Therefore, it is no surprise that these individuals are susceptible to higher levels of stress, depression and other health issues. High levels of stress can result in not knowing when to stop and ask for help or taking on too much.

We’ve compiled a short list of interesting ways caregivers can stop and de-stress, even if it is just for a few minutes a day.

1. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s something that we thought would be a useful reminder. You have a built-in stress reliever! Just breathe. Scientific studies have shown that taking deep breaths during moments of high stress and anxiety can help manage these stress levels and stress-related conditions. When a person is under stressful conditions, their breathing patterns change and can cause shallow breaths, over-breathing or hyperventilation, which can worsen symptoms. Controlled, slow breathing can through the nose can help lessen these symptoms.

2. If you’re reading this, chances are you have a busy schedule, but you still found time to read this! Try doing the same thing with a magazine or a good book.  Reading requires concentration and can often provide the distraction you need at a given time. Losing yourself in a good book can help you to escape the worries and stresses you deal with on a day-to-day basis.

3. Music has the incredible ability to quickly shift our mood and can be a great technique to turn to whenever you feel stressed or overwhelmed. Another plus is that music is so readily available on your mobile devices, tablets and computers. It can also be used in tandem with another great stress reliever – exercise. Whether it is walking, gardening, or even cleaning, movement releases endorphins and can eliminate stressful tension and enhance pleasure.

4. As caregivers, you may already be spending a good amount of time in the kitchen, preparing meals for your loved one. For some, the act of preparation can cooking is a stress reliever. For others who may not enjoy cooking or cleaning so much, try these little tricks to help you relax. Reach into the cabinet where you keep the baking supplies and take a whiff of vanilla extract. The scent of vanilla can reduce anxiety and can lift your mood by releasing endorphins. You can also add a few drops to your morning coffee if you are anticipating a stressful day ahead. You can also light a vanilla scented candle to get the same effect. If you are worried about open flames, there are many flameless candles that produce the same wonderful aromas as the wick candles. Lavender is another scent that has been  proven to calm the senses. Try adding a few drops of lavender oil to boiling water and let the aroma fill the air. If you want a little more pep in your step, try sprinkling cayenne pepper on to your favorite foods. Cayenne peppers contain capsaicin, which in an ingredient that makes certain types of peppers hot. Along with other positive healthy side effects capsaicin offers, adding it to your food can release endorphins.

Okay, so you’ve tried some of these de-stressing techniques and you are still thinking you need help. This is nothing you should be ashamed of. Instead, pat yourself on the back for making a decision that will support you, your family and your loved one that requires care. The side effects from chronic stress can be extremely dangerous to yourself and others around you. In our experience, we see many caregivers struggle with reaching out for help because they think it is their duty as family to help.

AmeriStaff Home Nursing is here to provide the much needed break that will support the entire family. We specialize in the care of patients who have experienced a life-altering event that has resulted in a spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury. We also have home care plans available for individuals who require assistance with their again loved one. From companionship to 24 hour in-home care, we will design a plan that supports all members of the family.

We provide a free in-home consultation to families who are looking for additional help with their caregiving responsibilities. You can call us at 248-288-2270 or complete our New Service Request form.