Managing Care Partner Stress
Some health professionals call care partners "hidden patients." You need emotional support and practical services just like people living with Parkinson's. Maintaining a home, family, and career in addition to caring, will make stress inevitable. Long-term family care partners often find it challenging to reduce stressors. Here are some techniques to help you manage stress.
Active Stress Reduction
Exercise away the anxiety. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about setting up an exercise regimen that meets your health needs along with your loved one with PD.
Exercise with others. This simultaneously meets two important needs: exercise and social support.
Socialize with people who uplift you. Nothing can empower you like a feeling of camaraderie. Minimize exposure to negative people. Instead, go out with friends or get involved with a community organization, support group or charity that you believe in.
Learn to laugh. Keeping a sense of humor helps beat anxiety. Watch a funny video or read something funny everyday.
Did you know that just taking some time to sit quietly and breathe can benefit stress more than anything. Choose a time and create a relaxing space with minimal interruptions and distractions. Turn down / off your telephones and perhaps even dim the lighting in the room. While sitting or lying down, close your eyes and focus your attention on breathing. Just don't go to sleep. Inhale through your nose and feel your abdomen, ribcage and chest expand. Then, exhale long and slow in reverse order. Don't try to force your breathing or hold your breath, just keep it rhythmic. Practicing for 5-10 minutes daily, you can use this technique whenever you feel stress or loss of control over your body or emotions.
In addition to deep breathing exercises, you might mentally identify areas of your body starting from the head to your toes. Listen to your body's signals to focus on specific areas of muscle tension and focus on releasing that tension from those trouble spots. Make sure your position is balanced with equal weight on both sides of the body, stretched out, open and extended. Try lying on your back, arms at sides, legs slightly apart; bend knees if that is more comfortable.
While identifying areas you may feel especially tense in your body, you might want to focus your treatment with muscle relaxation. This relaxation exercise involves tightening each muscle group in your body, holding for 5 seconds, and then gradually releasing and relaxing for 10-15 seconds. It takes about 20 minutes to perform and can bring tremendous benefits if you fit it into your daily routine. To do this:
Sit or lie down quietly in a comfortable position with no distractions or possibilities of interruption. Begin by thinking slow, relaxing thoughts. Recall any comfortable image you can imagine, such as lying by a stream in a beautiful forest or laying out on the beach near the ocean. Take three deep breaths and focus on the tension in your body.
Go through each of the muscle groups, beginning with the hands, working up to the body then down to the feet. With practice you will soon be familiar with the sequence. Tense the muscles as tightly as you can. Hold for 5 seconds, then gradually release.
As you release the muscles, relax, and feel the tension drain away. Imagine the blood circulating in the different muscle groups. Concentrate on the feelings in the muscles as they go from tight to loose. Notice the difference between tension and relaxation. perform the tightening and relaxing of each muscle group twice before moving.
We have many opportunities to choose aps or music that can help us establish a time of relaxation. From nature sounds to classical music, even breathing exercises guided by soothing voices. The important thing is to choose something that brings you enjoyment and allows you to focus on you.
Parkinson's Foundation. Page 32. Managing Care Partner Stress. Chapter two. Caring for the Care Partner. Caring and Coping. A Care Partner's Guide to Parkinson's Disease. "Booklet."