December is a great time of year. There is so much to see, so many people to catch up with and holiday parties galore! It’s also often a month that individuals choose to evaluate their goals, future plans, and past experiences. They look back on the past year and see what they might change in the future. One thing that might not be on the top of your to do list (although it should be!) is the reevaluating of your stress level.

Did you know that stress not only effects you mentally, but physically, as well? Stress alone can lead to a compromised immune system and other serious health issues! As stress levels increase, the body is made to send warning signs that you can no longer handle it. This is specifically tough on caregivers. They can become burned out and unable to provide the care their loved one needs. There are a number of emotional, physical and behavioral warning signs.

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Caregivers deal with a different kind of stress than most people do in their jobs. They have to deal with changes that can overwhelm their emotional capacity easier than most, because their role places them in the center of highly emotional situations such as communicating with a family member, hospice nurse, or the client. While stress is not always a bad thing, as it can keep us alert and ready to escape danger, it is something that caregivers should be aware of.

Since stress is not always avoidable, the next best thing for caregivers and their clients is to be aware of it when it comes. You never want to get to the point that you are feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope. The key to combating stress is being able to recognize it in your life. Once you can recognize it, then learn healthy ways to combat it. It is also very important to remember that stress comes from your response to stressful events. You have the power to manage your stress.

To ensure that caregivers are healthy, happy, and working with lower stress levels, many agencies get creative with ways to engage caregivers and bring them together. Some agencies have brought in different speakers to come and speak to their caregivers. From inspirational speakers to former doctors and current caregivers, it proves to be a great way to lift morale and spirits. We have also seen outings such as ice-cream breaks, caregiver tea time, client’s days out, as perfect opportunities for caregivers to meet and bring their clients along, so everyone has someone to be social with! From support groups, social media chats on Facebook and Twitter, there are many great resources for caregivers seeking a community as they continue to give one of the greatest gifts they can through their occupation of companionship and hope!