Facing a cancer diagnosis is stressful. But it’s not just the patients that face stress. Caregivers also need help managing stress. Often feeling helpless and frightened because they don’t know what’s going to happen to their loved one, many feel guilty if they focus on themselves, observes Katherine Puckett, PhD, MS, MSW, LCSW, National Director of Mind-Body Medicine at Cancer Treatment Centers of America®.
“Talking with a trusted friend or counselor can help caregivers reduce stress, feel less helpless, and understand how to respond to their loved ones,” Puckett said.
Here are nine additional stress-busting tips for caregivers:
- Ask for and accept help from other family members or seek out community resources for yourself and the patient.
- Consider respite care to give yourself a temporary break.
- Know your limits about what you can and can’t handle, based on your other responsibilities to your spouse, children, work, school, etc.
- Take it one day at a time, knowing good and bad days are normal.
- Stay in touch with friends and family to help you feel connected and provide emotional outlets for stress.
- Get enough sleep so you can manage challenges more easily.
- Eat well and exercise to minimize irritability and fatigue.
- Make time for yourself, setting aside at least five minutes each day to meditate or simply be still.
- Educate yourself about both your loved one’s condition and the resources available to help you.