Here are 10 healthy ways to cope with the stress and anxiety that often accompany caregiving:
Play a Game
50% of all men and 48% of all women play video games, including me. Of course, playing an analog game is another healthy way to cope with stress. You can play a board game as a family or if you prefer to play solo, a deck of cards can provide lots of enjoyment.
While many people view this as a waste of time, there are positive things about gaming (in moderation). One of them is stress relief. Games provide an escape from the pressures you may be under as a caregiver.
It’s important that you don’t spend so much time playing games, that you fall behind with the rest of your life, but there is nothing wrong with traveling to another place and time or working through some puzzles in a video game. Games allow you to focus on something completely separate from what is happening in your life.
Make a List of Goals for the Day/Week/Month
Making a list of your goals is not only a great way to structure your life, but it’s also one of the best ways to cope with stress and anxiety. A couple of tips:
Each night, take a couple of minutes to go over your plans for the next day. It’s also a great idea to do this with your family members so that everyone is on the same page. This will prevent any scheduling surprises. It also helps you mentally prepare for the next day. Then, do the same thing with your week, each Sunday evening. At the end of each month, go over the upcoming month.
Once you have your schedule straight, think about your to-do list. What can you comfortably fit into your schedule? We know that in 2 weeks, my husband may be starting a cancer drug trial which will require some travel. So, today I scheduled medical appointments that the rest of the family needs,=. That way they will all be taken care of before the trial begins. This gives you greater control over your schedule, rather than your schedule controlling you. Learn more about goal setting HERE.
A little over a decade ago, I went through a divorce. That was when I learned the power of dancing as one of the great ways to cope with stress. My kids were having a really hard time, not only because their biological father was suddenly gone, but because I was sad, as well. In fact, one of my daughters thought he had died because she didn’t know what divorce was.
I knew that something had to be done to help them. I’m no dancer, but I decided that each night before we would say our prayers, we would DANCE! I turned on some fun worship music and with Emily on my hip and her sisters and I would move to the music. There was something so invigorating about it. I think it was as much our ability to dance in spite of our pain as anything else, which made it work.
Take Up a New Hobby
For years, I said, “Someday I’m going to…” The most common ending for that phrase was, “…join the Minnesota Mycological Society.” Year after year I would say it. But, I never did it, until last summer. Like every year, I visited their display at the Minnesota State Fair’s Horticulture Building. They had a good State Fair special on the membership fee, so I joined. I have gotten so much more enjoyment out of it than I ever imagined I would! It’s another thing to learn about, and I love to learn. I especially love to join in on the forays and hunt for mushrooms.
What hobby have you been wanting to try? Why not dip your toes into the water?
Look Up Recipes and Cook a Meal
Not long ago I discovered the wonders of Wal-Mart Pick up. I order everything I need online, and a couple of days later I pick it up without ever having to go into the store. That alone has been one of the ways to cope with stress that I find especially helpful. It is great for another reason.
Each week, I look up a new recipe. I can ensure I have all of the ingredients. Those that I don’t have, I add to the list. Then we try out the new recipe and as a family, we decide if we’d eat it again. This has really added to the variety at our table.
Look at Something Pretty, like Flowers or Art
Here in the Twin Cities, pretty things abound. I have 2 favorites that are perfect for any day of the year, regardless of weather.
The Como Park Zoo & Conservatory is the perfect way to fight seasonal affective disorder or cabin fever that can push a stressed Minnesotan over the edge. There’s an entirely different environment in the conservatory. The humidity and temperature are higher. It’s like flying to the tropics without paying for airfare. And it smells spectacular. In the winter, this is certainly one of the best ways to cope with stress.
The Minneapolis Institute of Art is another place to see something pretty. The art in this museum that would rival any of the renowned art museums ranges from Asian to African, to European Classics. Name a truly great artist and it’s likely you can find his or her work here.
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is perfect for a balmy summer evening. It’s right outside another amazing Minnesota museum, The Walker. To top off your night walking through the sculpture garden, check out the ice cream truck with that’s from your childhood.
Color to Cope with Stress
Adult coloring books have become so popular—and with good reason. Coloring is a very meditative way to cope with stress. You are focusing on lines, patterns, colors. Stroke by stroke, you are creating a work of art without the work. It’s not even about the result as much as it is, the process.
This weekend, we braved a snowstorm to go to the Sea Life Aquarium at the Mall of America. It was fascinating to watch these elegant and strange fish and sharks floating through the water around us. At the end of our tour, we were able to visit the sea anemone garden where we could even touch the creatures that look more like flowers than animals. It was an incredibly relaxing experience. And of course, we hit the food court before leaving the mall.
You can also watch fish of a smaller variety, either in your own tank or in a local pet shop where you’ll find a wide variety.
Read a Good Book
As a writer, I feel reading is one of the best ways to cope with stress. Today, while reading Sally Red Shoes, by I laughed out loud several times, and then cried for about 20 minutes, The characters in a really good book, come alive. I feel their pain and rejoice in their gladness. Reading is the greatest escape I know.
I’ve saved the very best way to cope with stress for last. Prayer connects you with your Creator, the One who knows you more intimately than anyone does. When you pray, you are sharing your burden with a protective Father. This is about more than wanting something in return. It’s about building a relationship.
All you have to do is to have a conversation with God.
Once again I will be doing double duty in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I will be sharing ways to avoid burnout, here at Facing Cancer with Grace. At Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, I will share ways of thinking creatively, using Brainsparker’s Kickstart Course of A to Z prompts. I hope you’ll visit me at both sites.
What’s your favorite way to cope with stress?
What Are Your Thoughts?
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In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at Amazon.com:
I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker
 Duggan, Maeve. “Gaming and Gamers.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, 12 Sept. 2017, www.pewinternet.org/2015/12/15/gaming-and-gamers/.
 I’m writing this 2/11/2019.