As caregivers, we tend to have a lot of “reasons” why we don’t take the time to care for ourselves. We feel selfish, don’t have enough time in the day, or simply don’t know how to ask for help. Whatever the reason may be, the truth is, we all know if we don’t take proper care of ourselves, we can’t efficiently care for someone else. Learning how to make small, positive changes in your behavior can help you reduce and manage stress in a way that works for you and you’re busy life.
Steps to Managing Stress
- Recognize the signs of being stressed out: These might include irritability, sleep problems, and forgetfulness. Know your own warning signs, and act to make changes. Donʼt wait until you are overwhelmed.
- Identify sources of stress: Ask yourself, “What is causing stress for me?” Sources of stress might be that you have too much to do, family disagreements, feelings of inadequacy, or the inability to say no.
- Identify what you can and cannot change: Remember, we can only change ourselves; we cannot change another person. When you try to change things over which you have no control, you will only increase your sense of frustration. Ask yourself, “What do I have some control over? What can I change?” Even a small change can make a big difference.
- Take action: Taking some action to reduce stress gives us back a sense of control. Stress reducers can be simple activities like walking and other forms of exercise, gardening, meditation, listening to music, or having coffee with a friend. Identify some stress reducers that work for you. Then do them!
- Set goals and dates: You may find it helpful to schedule time on your calendar for stress reducing activities. Planning the things in advance and committing to them in writing makes it more likely that we will follow through. Even something as small as a bike ride should be scheduled on your calendar. Don’t forget about the things you want to achieve for yourself!