Caregiver Harbor Advice

5 Ways to Reduce Caregiver Stress Under Pressure
Frank Blood

5 Ways to Reduce Caregiver Stress Under Pressure

Everyone deals with pressure in their work and personal lives. Pressure creates stress. Stress is an unavoidable part of life and can be a wonderful motivator when things need to get done. When the pressure is on for just a short time until a goal is accomplished, it’s usually considered good stress. Good stress builds character, endurance, and so on. But when the pressure is on for extended periods of time, and it seems like it will never let up, it can create bad stress. Bad stress can lead to a multitude of physical and emotional problems.

Caregivers are under more pressure than many people because they have another person to take care of besides themselves. They have very little control over situations they face daily, and this can cause bad stress which eventually induces frustration and confusion. Confusion produces even more stress. Reducing the intensity and duration of the causes of excessive pressure goes a long way toward helping prevent chronic stress. Easy to say, hard to do. But it is important to learn how to be proactive when dealing with stressful circumstances.

Here are five practices you can use to get better at getting things done before or while under pressure and so reduce the effects of bad stress.

1. Look Ahead and Plan

You know what you need to have done and by when for work. It isn’t any different for caregiving. Sure, there are many unpredictable circumstances that will throw your schedule completely off, but there are also those that won’t. Consider all the tasks you need to do at home and for work and figure out a way to keep them from bunching up.

I’m not suggesting a rigid agenda. Merely look ahead for the next week or two and move tasks around wherever possible so that you aren’t looking at 20 hours’ worth of work one day and 4 the next.  If your loved one is going to need more care soon, it would be a good idea to create a plan B so that you can adjust quickly. Expect the unexpected.

2. Prioritize

The most difficult part of prioritizing for me is when I have equally important items for work and caregiving, both competing for the same block of time. Sometimes I’ve rescheduled a doctor appointment and sometimes I’ve negotiated for more time at work. It depended on what was more important to me at the time. But the point is, to do something about the conflict before the last minute so you aren’t trying to do both at the same time and you are taking care of the more important task first.

3. Avoid Chronic Procrastination

The greatest pressure is almost always a result of failing to act early enough. Purposeful procrastination can be a good thing when you need more time to gather information or mull things over. However, chronic procrastination leads to self-imposed extra pressure and its resultant added stress. Waiting to make an appointment with the doctor, putting off helping with exercises that are important to your loved one’s rehab, failing to get tests done in time for the doctor to review the results before their next appointment, and so on adds unnecessary stress and erodes your confidence.

4. Do the Most Important Things First

Writing out a list and prioritizing the items is important. But it doesn’t get the job done. There are going to be things on it that you like to do and some things that you absolutely dislike doing. Doing the things you like to do with a lower priority ahead of those you don’t with a higher priority creates self-inflicted pressure on steroids.

If you are having difficulty starting a task, take another look at your purpose for completing it. Is it necessary or merely a distraction? Is it something you must do or is it something someone else can do for you? Most of the tasks we do as caregivers can be done by home care aides who are trained to get them done as quickly and easily as possible for their clients. Some things we do at work would be nice to have, but not necessary. But if it is important and you must do it, then just do it.

5. Keep Your Mind on the Task at Hand

There is no such thing as multitasking; doing two or more things simultaneously. The mind can only process one task at a time. Switch-tasking is actually what we are doing when we are writing an email while on the phone or driving with the radio on while talking on our (hands-free) phone. We all think we’re good at it, but neuroscience research says that we aren’t. Studies have shown that switch-tasking makes us considerably less efficient and can even be harmful to our health.

When we are fully present and focused on the work at hand, studies show that we complete the project faster with a higher rate of quality. And, since we feel better about how we did it, we have a higher rate of confidence in its value. Stress can’t build up when we keep busy doing the right things. 

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5 comments on article "5 Ways to Reduce Caregiver Stress Under Pressure"


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