Tips to Handle the Stress That Comes With Illness
Illness, especially chronic or fatal, is stressful for many reasons, not the least of which is the worry that comes with how your family will manage daily life without you in charge. You may also grapple with uncertainty and the prospect of death. Not knowing the outcome of your illness or how long you would have is certainly enough to cause even the calmest person quite a bit of stress. But as we all know, stress isn’t good for your physical or emotional health. So, if you are facing hospice in Alameda County and elsewhere, heed these tips for lowering your stress. This aligns well with National Stress Awareness Month this April.
Today we will go over tips on how both the hospice patient and their caregivers can cope with the stress of illness.
Coping With Stress as a Caregiver
Caregiver burnout is a very real thing. That’s why you have to take good care of yourself when caring for someone with a chronic or fatal illness. If you’re not healthy, you can’t provide the best level of care. Take advantage of respite services to give yourself a break, and follow these tips to cope with the stress that comes with caring for an aging parent, spouse, or other loved one.
- Practice Self-Care: Don’t neglect yourself through all this. Always be finding ways to care for YOU. There are many ways you can achieve this, such as getting enough ZZZs, eating healthy foods, and getting daily exercise. This will help you regain a sense of control and well-being while centering your life so you can forge on. In a caregiving role, you can’t afford to get sick or have a mental breakdown, because you need to be there for your loved one.
- Reduce Stress Levels: Do what you can to reduce your stress level. Go for walks each day, get a massage, get your nails done, go out to lunch with the girls, take a bubble bath: whatever relaxes you and grounds you, do it. It’s very easy to lose yourself on this journey. Focus on finding yourself regularly.
- Accept Offers of Help: It can be tough admitting you need help, but when family, friends, or neighbors offer to help, take them up on it. They may cook you a meal, watch your kids, or do some food shopping for you. Whatever it is, say yes. Those offers won’t always be there. Don’t be too proud and say you’re fine.
- Reach Out: Look after your mental health too. This can involve reading self-help books, attending support groups, and going to counseling. These healthy outlets give you a chance to express your feelings, worries, and thoughts in a safe environment with no judgment. Support groups, for example, offer you validation and encouragement, on top of problem-solving strategies for difficult situations, says the Mayo Clinic. Knowing you’re not going through this alone can be very hopeful.
Coping With Stress in Hospice
If you’re the one in hospice, you have very different sources of stress, many of which stem from questioning what will happen to you when you’re gone and how your family will be provided for. Being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and then facing hospice can bring on a roller coaster of emotions. You may be accepting one day and then angry the next, but the point is, these feelings are all normal.
The American Psychological Association suggests actively facing your illness by writing down your questions and asking your doctor to discuss them with you. Knowledge can empower you to accept your diagnosis and then face strategies to cope. Another tip is to manage elements or areas of your life that are still within your control. You can’t control your disease, but you can choose ways to stay as healthy as possible, such as following a good diet, taking medications as prescribed, and spending more time with supportive people.
You can minimize stress by finally letting go of obligations that are not necessary. Pause your volunteer commitments, let another mom bake cookies for the bake sale, or ask a neighbor to grab some groceries for you so you can rest. Building a strong support network is also important so you can rely on them to help manage your disease.
Illness isn’t just stressful on you, it’s stressful for the whole family. It can lead to marital strain between couples and can strain even the strongest of mother-child bonds. Keep communication open and strive to see the other person’s perspective. Ask for help and accept help. Spend time with those you love. Looking after yourself is the most important thing right now. You can lower your stress by focusing on those core values.
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
Coping with stress in healthy ways is something we try to emphasize here at Pathways. Contact us now to learn more about our hospice program and the healthy practices we bring to it at 888-978-1306.