Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Step #3 Of Leading A Balanced Life

Self-care for the caregiver is essential. According to NAMI's Family-to-Family education program, there are seven principles for a caregiver to lead a balanced life. The first principle and second principle were discussed in previous posts.

The third principle is: Watch Your Stress Level.

Stress is an unavoidable part of life. We know that it can wreak havoc on our bodies and our lives.

A key component to managing stress is to learn your own personal warning signs that you are becoming stressed.

All of us handle stress differently. While one person's warning sign might be snapping at a family member or co-worker, another person's might be sleeplessness or a physical reaction like an aching neck.

It's important to identify your personal "red flags" so that you can address the stress before it reaches a point of overwhelm.

Once you've identified an early sign that you are stressed, it's time to take a step back and slow down. Don't underestimate the importance of acknowledging that you are stressed, taking deep breaths and taking a step back (in whatever way you can) from the situation.

From there, each of us must determine what helps during times of stress. There is no one answer for everyone. For some people, going for a walk or run helps tremendously. For others, baking, bathing, writing or listening to music might help. Some people want to be alone while others feel the need to vent to a friend or therapist.

Each of us is unique, and self-knowledge is critical when it comes to watching stress levels. Know your signs. Know when to take a step back. And know what things you can do that help relieve your stress.

Helping yourself is one of the best things you can do for your loved one.