It’s not uncommon to experience emotional, physical and mental exhaustion when caring for an aging loved one. In fact, 29 percent of caregivers have difficulty managing emotional and physical stress according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To prevent experiencing this type of exhaustion known as caregiver burnout, finding ways to de-stress every day becomes essential.
Especially during these summer months, vacations offer caregivers the very rare opportunity to relax. There are even special activities for caregivers to relieve stress that are the perfect addition to any trip.
The Importance of Caregiver Stress Relief
None of us perform at our best levels when we are stressed, and this is especially true for caregivers. A recent study found that more than half of caregivers who reported a decline in their health due to caregiving also said that this decline affected their ability to care for their loved one. Just like that airplane metaphor about putting your own oxygen mask on first before helping others, this study proves that you need to take care of yourself first and foremost in order to best care for your loved one.
Caregivers commonly feel guilty about taking a break from their duties, which is why caregiver burnout is so common. However, if you don't take the time to re-energize, stress can have serious effects on your health, like high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety and depression. Remember that stress relief is key in promoting your own health and well-being, and in the end, it will benefit your loved one, too.
Activities for Caregivers to Relieve Stress While Vacationing
The effects of caregiver burnout may be serious, but enjoying a well-deserved vacation is one of the best ways to prevent them. While traveling to any of these great summer vacation destinations for caregivers, try out some of these activities that will help you de-stress:
This exercise involves both stationary and fluid poses that strengthen muscles and promote relaxation through meditation. If you’re often on your feet for most of the day, try the “legs on chair” pose, which will relieve pressure off of your legs and spine. As an added bonus, you don’t need to pack anything extra in your suitcase - just bring a clear mind and you can do yoga anywhere!
Yoga is one of the most popular activities for caregivers to relieve stress because it can help reduce tension throughout your body and also has a built-in component to help calm the mind as well. The word “yoga” means “union” or “connection” in Sanskrit, the ancient language that early yogis spoke, so it’s no wonder that those who practice regularly report feeling more of a mind-body connection.
Another activity that has recently become popular among caregivers is journaling. Many find this beneficial because it promotes self awareness and provides an opportunity to focus on yourself for a few minutes every day. A similar option is blogging. Unlike journaling, however, you have instant access to a support system, which is a great source of caregiver stress relief.
If you’re unsure of how you can start journaling or blogging, try jotting down three things you are thankful for or simply write down what you’re feeling at that very moment. There is no right or wrong way to approach journaling--it’s a very personal experience. If you find that you still need some inspiration, check out these great blogs for caregivers.
Exercise might not seem like a very relaxing activity to enjoy while vacationing, but it is a surefire way to beat caregiver burnout. When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins, which are the chemicals that fight stress and release positive feelings.
In addition to yoga, which is a form of exercise despite it’s mellow flow, cycling is another great exercise to do on vacation because you can sightsee and explore your new surroundings at your own pace. Other exercises that reduce stress include walking, swimming, tai chi and pilates.
Spas are often synonymous with relaxation, and for good reason. Along with reducing stress, spas also help soothe sore joints and muscles. No matter where you’re vacationing, there’s bound to be a local spa nearby where you can spend the day relaxing.
The best part, however, is that you don’t have to wait until you go on vacation to enjoy these benefits. It’s easy to plan a spa day in your own home and indulge in a mini-staycation.
Ensuring Your Loved One’s Safety From Afar
While there’s no denying that relaxation promotes your health, many caregivers struggle with the idea of taking a vacation because they worry their loved one will need help while they are away. This is, of course, a very rational concern since none of us know when an emergency will occur.
Luckily, there are some ways to ensure your loved one’s safety while you’re on vacation. With a medical alert device from Medical Guardian, you can rest assured that your loved one will be able to receive immediate help in an emergency, and that no matter where you’re vacationing, you’ll be notified of your loved one’s situation right away.