Everyday life brings along many stresses. We navigate them as much as we can, but for many caregivers, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with caregiving.
It may feel like there is no relief in sight, or that a break is impossible to come by. The important aspect to caregiving that many individuals overlook is that in order to best take care of a loved one, you must also provide yourself the same level of care and devotion. Self-care should match what’s given to others.
1. Easily reduce the feelings of being overwhelmed with caregiving through affect labeling
Affect labeling: the action of putting your feelings to words. Why does this help? It reduces the emotional impact of those overwhelming feelings by compartmentalizing it. To take part in affect labeling, simply take a pen and notebook and write. Write your feelings, your thoughts, whatever comes to mind. There is no need for complete sentences.
By putting these thoughts into an organized state, it helps a caregiver navigate through them. When you have so many thoughts and feelings, organizing them will help mitigate the wave of overwhelming emotions.
2. Try out the technique of square breathing
When you slow down and focus on your breathing during moments of high stress and anxiety, your body will be able to properly fuel itself with the oxygen it needs in order to calm you down.
In order to partake in square breathing, follow these steps:
1. With your finger, slowly trace the shape of a square starting by drawing one side of a square, breathing in deeply for 3 seconds as you do so.
2. Hold your breath for one second as you draw the second side.
3. As you draw the third side, breathe out for 3 seconds.
4. For the fourth side, hold your breath for one second.
Why does this work? This is because square breathing allows you to truly ease a racing mind and slow down erratic breathing.
3. Play a memory game
By asking yourself questions or thinking of a particular memory, it leaves the mind with concentrated thinking. Some examples of good memory games include the following:
- Singing your favorite songs (like nobody’s watching) without any of the music to help you along.
- Naming as many types of flowers or dog breeds as you can.
- How many US states have you visited?
- Try saying the alphabet backwards as far back as you can.
- Name as many sports teams in a league as you can, or as many music artists in a genre.
4. Finding a mantra to repeat
A positive saying, quote or mantra to repeat when you’re at the peak level of stress and anxiety can help center you and return to the present moment. The saying doesn’t have to be elaborate or well spoken, but just simply a statement of reassurance for yourself that will bring you back to a calm state of mind.
Here are some examples:
- I am going to be okay.
- Right now I am safe and I am well.
- These feelings will pass and I am going to be okay.
- I have overcome many challenges in life, and I will make it through this.
- Everyone is going to be okay and I will be okay.
5. Use the 54321 technique to bring happier thoughts
For this exercise, a series of thoughts occur in the order of the numbers as follows:
- List 5 things you can visibly see (couch, window, door, etc.)
- List 4 things you can feel (back against a cushion, toes on the carpet, the cool breeze, etc.)
- Identify 3 things you can hear at the moment (birds chirping, kids playing outside, rain hitting the roof, etc.)
- Name 2 things that you can smell at that moment (dinner baking in the oven, clean laundry, etc.)
- State 1 great thing about YOU (I’m strong and don’t give up easily, etc.)
Remembering to relax
Caregiving is a busy job to undertake. It bears physical work, but equally as much emotionally. As you continue to take care of your loved one, you must keep a tab on not only their care routine, but the one you have in place for you.
Being your best version of yourself is what will make the tasks less tiring, and boost your energy. Your loved one needs you, just as you need to make sure that your mind and spirit are given a break every once in a while.
When overwhelmed with caregiving to the point of needing to seek assisted living or memory care, we at The Kensington Redondo Beach will be your partners in lending a helping hand, one that provides care for every resident as we do our own families. Give us a call today to learn more about our memory care and assisted living neighborhoods, or schedule a virtual tour to see them for yourself.