“How Do You Spell R.E.L.I.E.F?”

In past blogs I addressed issues that cause stress and what to do about them when you are a caregiver. We are all caregivers in some capacity of our lives: parent, spouse, professional or as an adult child caring for elderly parents. The daily responsibilities and duties can add up to chronic stressors that affect our entire lives: no energy, illness, anger, grief, a feeling of never having enough time, never being able to say “No.”

This series of blogs will deal with some ways we can take care of ourselves as caregivers.  There will be more detail about how to support yourself and others in these challenging times. You will discover the real effects of the stress of caregiving. You will not only learn why these stressors develop, but also how to cope with them. You can also acquire new attitudes that allow you to erase some of the sources of your caregiving stress.

“How Do You Spell R.E.L.I.E.F?”

Let’s take a look at what stress is, how it feels, what happens to us physically and emotionally, and what to watch for to know when we’re getting to a risky stress level.  The next several blogs will be exploring each of the letters that spell “relief.”

“R” is for “relax.”

“Let go. Just relax.” Isn’t that what people say to you?  Sounds simple, but doing it isn’t so simple. Let’s examine why not.

First of all, we all have degrees of stress.

Imagine a long horizontal line. On the left there’s a zero… the point where you are most relaxed. Maybe that’s the time just before you fall asleep or when you’re listening to some favorite soothing music. At the far right end of the line is the number 10… the point when you’re stressed out the most. You might be screaming, crying, or pounding your fist at this stage. In the middle of the scale is a five. This is the point when we are just beginning to feel the stress. Everyone has a different interpretation of what is zero or five is. The important thing to remember is that at five our bodies begin to release hormones and substances that create the emotional changes and physical sensations we feel when we’re stressed. Take a minute to think about what your unique early and late warning signs are. Notice if they are more physical or emotional. They could be a combination of both. Of course, if you don’t deal with the causes of these warning signs and move into the effects of chronic stress, you may develop certain diseases. We will talk about that more in another blog.

In the next blog we will cover the “E” in R.E.L.I.E.F.

Also, in April, Liz Barta, our RN educator at Catalina In Home Services, Inc., is presenting an online in-depth version of “How Do You Spell R.E.L.I.E.F?”.  This talk is sponsored by Tucson Medical Center For Seniors program. Soon we will provide details to register for this free presentation.