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4 Strategies That Can Help You Meet Your Needs While You Care for a Loved One with Cancer – Judy Nicholson Kidney Cancer Foundation

Caregiving is not an easy role to fulfill. While this responsibility can be rewarding, caregivers have high risk of experiencing stress, causing them to feel isolated, experience exhaustion, go through mood swings, and have constant body aches. Caregiver stress can also lead to more serious conditions because prolonged stress can lower their immunity, increase their risk for chronic diseases, and affect their mental well-being.

If you’re experiencing caregiver stress, you need to know that you don’t have to choose between your loved ones’ health and your well-being. You can meet your own needs while caring for your loved one with cancer through these strategies:

Make time for regular exercise

You can relieve your body aches and lower your stress levels by exercising regularly. In fact, you can even do exercises with your loved one so that you can both improve your well-being.

According to reports from an exercise specialist, patients who are getting radiation treatments experienced better quality of life, increased physical fitness, and less cancer-related fatigue when they joined exercise classes. You can both do thirty to sixty-minute sessions once or twice a week to achieve great results on your physical and emotional health.

Integrate ergonomics in caregiving

A study on patient transfers emphasized that caregivers need to use ergonomic aids in transferring patients to beds, chairs, and other places to reduce their experiences of body pain. For instance, you can use aids like lifts or sliding mats to protect your spine as you move your loved one from one position to another.

On top of that, this article states that you can also prevent lower back pain by using an ergonomic chair while you’re sitting for long periods of time. These chairs provide support for your neck, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles to relieve your body of pressure as you feed or simply sit by the side of your loved one.

Handle heavy emotions in a healthy manner

It can be normal to experience heavy emotions, especially when your loved one is struggling with a serious medical illness.

You can deal with these emotions in a healthy manner by having a stress-relieving hobby. This resource states that hobbies can help you feel refreshed because they connect you to your interests and allow you to enjoy bonding activities with your family and friends. You can even involve the loved one you care for in easy, stress-relieving hobbies, like painting, puzzling, and journaling.

Reach out to others for social support

Having hobbies that can bring you closer to your loved ones is important, as caregiving can make you feel lonely or isolated.

Social support is crucial because it provides you with a safe space to communicate heavy feelings about scans, medications, and caregiving. As such, you must reach out to your loved ones who can offer words of encouragement, express their love and care, or simply listen to your everyday experiences. You can also opt to join support groups for caregivers to express your sentiments to people who understand your experiences.

Caregivers are not selfish for prioritizing self-care strategies. By taking care of your own needs, you can reduce the symptoms of caregiver stress and help your loved one better.