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Keep your cool: Ways to avoid caregiver stress this summer

For a lot of caregivers, the phrase “dog days of summer” is downright laughable. Between juggling responsibilities as a parent, (did the school year really fly by that quickly?) a bursting social calendar (weddings all around!), and the regular caregiving responsibilities, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.  Here are some tips on how to manage stress, avoid caregiver burnout, and keep your cool this summer: 

1)    Prioritize activities that you enjoy
Water the vegetables in your garden, read a book on the patio with your morning coffee, or put your feet up and catch the last few minutes of a baseball game on TV. It may be hard to find a few minutes to yourself (even if it’s early in the morning or late at night,) but make it a priority to spend at least 15 minutes doing something that brings you joy, every day.  (And, if the idea of having time to yourself seems completely out of reach, don’t rule out Respite Care or Adult Day Clubs.

2)    Join a support group!
Knowing that you’re not alone in your caregiving struggles can be a great comfort.  Support Groups also encourage the exchange of ideas, so if you feel as if you’ve exhausted all of your solutions to everyday problems through trial and error, other group members might have useful suggestions and encouragement to keep you truckin’. 

3)    Take your health as seriously as theirs
Try to get enough sleep. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Drink enough water. Visit your doctor regularly (even when finding the time is inconvenient!) Prioritizing your health isn’t selfish. It helps ensure that you’ll be willing and able to balance caregiving responsibilities with the rest of life’s demands. 

4)    Ask for help!
Don’t let pride, embarrassment, or feelings of guilt get in your way of seeing the “big picture.”  If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t wait until it’s too late.  Talk about your frustrations with close friends, family, or, if you don’t feel comfortable sharing personal details with people you know, try calling a caregiver hotline.  Knowing when to ask for help is key to keeping you and your family happy and healthy.