Finding Ways to Ease Stress Important to Caregivers' Long-term Health
Caregiving (especially when taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer's disease) often results in an increasingly stressful life. And that pattern can lead to chronic stress, which can have a significant effect on the caregiver's own well-being.
Thus, I was interested in a feature on Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, that was published in the article "Jingle Bells, Jangled Nerves" in the December 2008 issue of O Magazine. Dr. Blackburn, who is a professor of biology and psychology at the University of California, San Francisco, has researched how chronic stress interferes with the ability of cells to renew tissues in the body. This chronic stress leads to accelerated aging.
To ease the stress, Dr. Blackburn suggests focusing on sources of stress that are controllable. She also suggests learning to meditate in order to relieve tension as well as finding situations that you can change and then making appropriate choices. "Simply exercising regularly pays back dividends because when you feel healthy, you feel more in control," Dr. Blackburn said.
When I was taking care of Mom, I found that regular exercise did provide a good outlet to eliminate stress (as did a short afternoon nap). I also tried to focus on eating healthily instead of going through the drive-thru lanes of fast food restaurants (where I could have saved time, but may have made bad dietary choices that could eventually contribute to the development of dementia). And I found that listening to classical music or other types of calming music also did wonders.
So what ways are caregivers who read this sharepost finding ways to manage their stress levels? I'll look forward to hearing what works for you.