Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 10th 2018 Contents health B7
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Within the last two
years my stress
levels have been at
an ultimate high. I
signed up for some-
thing that has no loop holes and,
is a legally binding contract for
life. I knew I would always take
care of my mom. But I really
wasn't prepared for everything
that would come with it. She is
now 83 years old but I still ind
myself seeing her as if she is 50.
But whose fault is that? This is
where the reality has not quite set
into my mind and, in some cases
hers, as she still thinks she can
climb to change the curtains as in
her younger years.
Growing up my mom was a
'take the bull by the horn' kind of
woman. In some cases she was
like Super Woman, not waiting
on anyone to get anything done.
In many cases I have attributed
my persistence and attitude to
my mom. What I didn't prepare
myself for was that one day that
Super Woman would be de-
pendent on me. When did the
transition happen? Why wasn't
I prepared? It is quite dif icult
watching her sometimes and I get
frustrated, angry, annoyed maybe
with her or is it really with my-
self? My stress levels go up very
quickly and I often lose patience
in the blink of an eye.
Reflecting on my actions, I take
responsibility for my personal
stress. My realization is slow but
steady in understanding what I
can and cannot change or control.
I am honoured to be able to take
care of my mom, as many are not
blessed to have their mother with
them, trusting that this journey,
will give me more understanding
of myself and my limitations.
Reducing personal stress
Our perception and response
to an event in a care giving situa-
tion, is a signi icant factor to how
we adjust and cope with it. It is a
prime example of some seeing the
glass as half-full or half empty. Ei-
ther way you are not alone in your
Your stress levels are influenced
by many factors, including the fol-
• Is your care giving voluntary?
Do you feel you had no choice in
taking on the responsibilities, if
yes, you may experience strain,
distress, and resentment.
• What’s your relationship with
the care recipient? In the hope
of healing a relationship, we
try to ill the void by caring for
the person. However, if healing
does not occur, you may feel re-
gret and discouragement.
• How well are your coping abili-
ties? What are your current cop-
ing strengths? Build on them.
How you coped with stress in
the past predicts how you will
• What’s your care giving situa-
tion? Some care giving situa-
tions are more stressful than
others. For example, caring for
a person with dementia is often
more stressful than caring for
someone with a physical limita-
Recognize warning signs early.
These might include irritability,
sleep problems, forgetfulness, ex-
cessive weight gain. Be mindful of
the changes in yourself and take
note as they happen. DO NOT
WAIT until you are overwhelmed
or fall ill. Ask yourself 'what is
causing stress for me?' It may be
that you have too much to do,
family disagreements, feelings of
inadequacy, or the inability to say
no, or to ask for help or no sup-
Remember, we can only change
ourselves; we cannot change an-
other person. Trying to change
things we do not have control
over, only increase your sense of
frustration. Ask yourself, "What
do I have some control over?
"What don't I have control over?
Health Plus Presents
Self-Care for family caregivers
Write it down so that it becomes
clearer in your mind.
Do not be shy when it comes to
ways to reducing stress. Try yoga,
meditation, mild to moderate ex-
ercises (take a walk, dance, play
sports), get a massage or get your
nails and hair done, chat with a
friend and have a good laugh or
even reading, writing painting,
adult colouring book, puzzles or
But one of the best, and sim-
plest ways for you to de-stress is
to practice gratitude. Try keep-
ing a gratitude journal. This can
be a notebook, copy book, a
document on your computer.
The point is you have a place to
write down things that make you
feel grateful. There's no right or
wrong way to do it.
Here are a few suggestions to
get you started:
• Set aside a few minutes each day
to think and write down one or
more things you're grateful for.
• Read over your journal when
you're feeling down or extra
stressed. It can be a good pick-
• Notice big things (I’m grateful
that I have a caring person in my
life) as well as small things (I re-
ally enjoyed the weather today,
mom took her medication easily
today, my hair looks great today)
- everything counts!
• I am grateful that I am finding
time to write in my journal
• Write about your favourite
place. How it makes you feel.
Example you love the beach,
feeling the sand between your
toes, the smell of salt water,
hearing the waves crash on the
rocks, the fresh sea breeze
Taking action to reduce stress
gives us back a sense of control.
Remember stress reducers can be
simple activities. Work with what
is readily available to you.
Homework - Identify some stress
reducers that work for you.
What are you grateful for? Start
your gratitude journal today.
What is Personal Stress?
Any occurrence or development
which has a physical, mental, or
emotional strain or tension on an
individual. Another popular de i-
nition of stress is, a condition or
feeling experienced when a per-
son perceives that demands in life
exceed the personal and social
resources the individual is able
to mobilize. Areas of the body af-
fected by stress are the brain and
nerves, muscles and joints, heart,
stomach, pancreas, intestines
and reproductive system.
Asha Mungal is
of her own
It is a prime
example of some
seeing the glass
as half-full or half
empty. Either way
you are not alone in
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