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Caretaker self-care is important! Here's how to relax and destress as a caretaker

Nearly 15 million Americans give unpaid care to an older adult and even though it is an important job, it is also stressful.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Caregiving is one of the most important and demanding jobs out there. For many people taking care of loved ones and other adults, the job can be physically and emotionally exhausting. It begs the question — who cares for the caretakers when they get tired?

Most of the time, caretakers need to find time to take care of themselves and simply relax. Otherwise, experts say they can easily end up burning out and develop problems with sleep, weight gain, irritability, fatigue or social isolation.

The body does not have a natural way to combat and process stress. Instead, it's up to caretakers to find ways to relax and control the stress they face throughout the day. First, many may need to realize that taking care of themselves is not selfish.

Taking time to process stress important as a caretaker. It recharges a person's emotional batteries and helps them feel physically better, helping them do better at their jobs. Caretakers who feel irritable or fatigued should take a moment to understand they may feel stressed and start searching for the time to relax.

Sometimes, a simple breath exercise can be all they need. It can take as little as 10 minutes. Steps for a simple exercise from experts are listed below:

  • Sit down on a chair or cushion and get comfortable
  • Close your eyes and start noticing how you breathe, think about how fast or slow it is
  • Let any thoughts come and go as they pop up. If you start getting distracted from your breathing, gently refocus on it.
  • Start breathing in slowly through the nose, holding it, and gradually exhaling
  • Continue for 10 minutes

If caretakers have more time to themselves, they can spend a few hours hanging out with friends or even join a support group. Regardless of who they hang out with, they should not be afraid to open up about the struggles they face if someone starts asking about them.

Keeping stress inside and refusing to talk about it will just make burnout worse. By talking about it, caretakers can refocus themselves and improve their understanding of what they're feeling.

Finding time to take breaks during the day can also help caretakers' mental health. It's also important to keep up a life outside of their jobs.

Keep up with hobbies. By having an avenue where you're guaranteed to have fun, you can easily reduce stress whenever you need it.