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Stress Relief: Three Reasons Why Caregivers Need to Give Themselves a Break

On June 27th, 2012

Recently, I read an article by Sharon Brothers as told to Ginny Grimsley on why caregivers need a break.  This is what she said and I agree that taking care of family members can be very stressful.  One way to give caregivers a break and relieve stress is BodyTalk.  BodyTalk is a technique that makes use of the body’s innate healing powers.  Communication is restored among all the parts of the body, and then reinforced by light tapping on the head and chest.  Schedule your BodyTalk appointment today.

By Sharon Brothers as told to Ginny Grimsley

caregiver-4“Being trapped in a dead-end job with a lousy boss and low pay is still not as stressful as being a caregiver to a loved one.”  That’s the opinion of one social worker that has nearly two decades of experience working with caregivers and their families.  According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, more than 65 million Americas are caregivers to family members with a vast array of illnesses including Alzheimer’s disease, advanced diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and many others.  The hardest thing for these people to do is to give themselves a break.

“When you work in a toxic workplace, you may feel trapped, but you can always try to find another job,” said Sharon Brothers, a veteran social worker and executive vice president of Caregiver Village.  “Caregivers, however can’t just find another job.  They are caring for a loved one, so the stress they live with is real and the boss they report to is themselves.  They feel trapped by their love and obligation to their family members, which makes it exponentially more difficult for them to get a break, because they feel guilty whenever they try to take one.  In fact, studies show that being a family caregiver is one of the most stressful ‘occupations’ in the country today.”

Compounding the problem is that many caregivers also still work a regular job in order to make ends meet.  Trying to balance a career and caregiver work simply compounds the stress.  Additionally, they cost businesses in the country more than $33 billion in lost productivity, according to an AARP study, which makes job security an additional source of stress.

“Most caregivers are adding this role on top of their work, their children, marriage and other commitments.  Just finding time for a break can seem impossible, given the increased demands on an already busy life,” she added.  “That’s even more reason why they need to find some time, even if it’s just a few hours each week, to make time for themselves so they can decompress even just a little.”

Reasons for this include:

Your stress is your loved one’s stress-While caregivers have to help family members with their illnesses, they don’t realize that stress is an illness, too.  Moreover, when they are stressed out, they won’t be able to function at their peak, resulting in a reduced ability to provide care.  A little down time will go a long way to keeping the household calm.  It may even allow the caregiver to continue to provide additional care for years into the future.

Guilt creates resentment-Feeling guilty about taking a little time each week to decompress will only build up a hidden resentment toward the one you are caring for.  That resentment can become toxic, and can defeat the purpose of caring for that person in the first place, because neither you nor they will be happy.

You’ll enjoy care giving so much more-Taking a break will give you a renewed sense of energy and purpose, helping you enjoy care giving even more.  Your loved one will sense your increased enjoyment, too.  No one wants to be a burden; increasing your enjoyment in care giving means your loved one will feel more valued and less of a burden to you.

About the Author:  Executive Vice President of Caregiver Village, Sharon Brothers holds a Master’s Degree in social work from the University of British Columbia.  She built and managed some of the very first specialty care centers for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia in both Washington and California, and has more recently developed an e-learning company for care giving professionals.  She works with family caregivers both in Caregiver Village and in her leadership of a family support group for her community hospital.  (www.caregivervillage.com).

I  recommend  Cortices Technique and Tahiti Vacation Relaxation stress management techniques to help relieve stress.  View our BodyTalk Access class listings and register for our workshop.

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