For the caregiver, anxiety, overwhelm, and stress is not uncommon. When not dealt with and addressed, these seemingly minor issues can grow and turn into major health and emotional problems.
Recently, I ended up visiting my doctor about some concerns over some health issues that were becoming more than minor irritations. I was sure that the main culprit was stress but wanted to make sure. She caught me by surprise, however, when she also brought up that I was scoring quite high on the anxiety scale as well.
After that first appointment, my awareness grew, and I began to recognize when my feelings of anxiety would start to appear. There has been more than one “aha!” moment since then as I realized just how slowly anxiety had permeated my life and I hadn’t even realized it.
(It would be good to note here that my role as caregiver is not the only contributing factor to my rising stress and anxiety levels. Work, projects, travel, caregiving, and more have all played parts in where I am now. And of course, ignoring symptoms and pushing through hasn’t helped either…)
What is Anxiety?
It’s a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an impending event or something with an uncertain outcome.
Here are a few symptoms you might recognize:
- Constant “butterflies” in your stomach
- Muscle tension
- Increased sense of worry
- Trouble concentrating
These are only a few of the ways anxiety can show up in your emotional and physical health. When ignored they can intensify, and lead to anxiety or panic attacks. For some, it can interfere with everyday activities and the ability to work. It can even cause issues in our personal relationships.
Not fun, all the way around.
7 Ideas to Help Relieve Stress and Anxiety
1) Acknowledge that Anxiety is an issue:
When I finally realized that anxiety was an issue, it helped me see that what I was experiencing was real and not something to simply push through and ignore. In taking that simple step, I have begun to understand the source of some of these health concerns.
2) Take Time For Yourself:
After a couple of visits to the doctor’s office, the top piece of advice was to start simple and to take some time to do something fun, to take time just for me. Oh, boy, did I have to laugh at that! Talk about needing to heed my own advice! It was a good reminder that I need to disconnect for a time and dive into a fun project or head out for a hike.
3) Prayer & Faith:
During the past few weeks, I have been working on my new book, “Be Still & Know That I Am God – Volume 2: Prayer”, talk about good timing! Working with images that show God’s creativity expressed in nature, as well as verses and quotes about prayer have been a soothing balm.
It’s important to be reminded, regularly, of where my eyes, and heart, need to be focused, of where to cast my cares and concerns and to understand to whom I need to look to when it all feels like too much.
Having someone, you can talk to and confide in can be a huge part of dealing with stress and anxiety as a caregiver in a healthy way. The simple act of talking about how you are feeling with someone who understands what you are going through can be such a release. Having friends be the listening ear you need and can offer encouragement helps you not feel so isolated and alone what a difference it can make when you know you are not alone.
5) Asking For Help:
First off, for some it ‘s hard to ask for help, it seems like we are admitting we can’t do it all (and we are right, we can’t!) Secondly, not everyone has a community or support system from which they can ask for help.
When you do ask for help, you are allowing others to feel useful, to be a blessing, and you are giving yourself time to recharge and take care of yourself. It can make a huge difference in how you feel and in how you can give care.
Moving your body, getting outside and out of the house for some fresh air is important. Breathing deep, clearing out the mental cobwebs, and stretching your legs is a major component any self-care routine. Just taking a 5-minute walk can transform how you feel and relieve the tension sitting in your body.
7) Being Creative & Having Fun:
Find an activity that brings you joy like eating a great meal, watching a fun movie, family game night, or making art. The point is to participate in an activity that engages you in an entirely different way by using a different part of your brain and helps disconnect you from day-to-day stress and activities.
Bonus Idea: Hug Your Dog:
I’m always fascinated by research that shows how important pets can be in our lives. My Bailey Boy is no exception! Animals can help lower stress levels, blood pressure, and relieve anxiety.
So go hug your dog when you are feeling anxious or stressed out! 🙂 Scratch him behind the ears, or take him for a short walk, I’m sure he won’t protest and you will both benefit.
This list only scratches the surface of ways to deal with anxiety for the caregiver. It’s something I will be working on in my life and passing along what I learn along the way.
Finding stillness, in the midst of stress, overwhelm, and anxiety, is something to be actively sought after, it’s not a passive activity. Start simple and pick one area to work on this week.
What is something you could do this week to help relieve anxiety?
Marta Goertzen is an entrepreneur, writer and nature photographer. She daily explores the trails and beaches of the South Central Oregon Coast with her buddy Bailey. You can follow along on their adventures on Instagram. She is also the author of several books including her newest, “Choosing Gratitude: A Daily Quiet Time Journal”.