Caron Hunter, LMT, RYT

Being a caregiver of someone who is fighting a cancer diagnosis is a test in balance.  It’s important for you to take care of yourself so you can take care of your loved one.  Each person is affected differently when taking on the role of caregiver.  Take a look at the following stress symptoms and try some of the antidotes to create more balance.  Let’s get started! 

Physical symptoms

·     Increased tension, muscle aches and pains

·     Sleeplessness

·     Headaches

·     Lack of appetite

Exercise is a wonderful way to manage physical stress and increase your energy level.  20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise transforms many symptoms and is good for your health.  Yoga and Tai Chi are also great choices.  Massage, acupuncture, and a warm bath will also soothe your nervous system.  Drink plenty of water and eat small meals to nourish your body.

Emotional symptoms

·     Anxiety, agitation, anger, overwhelm

·     Confusion or memory problems

·     Increased sadness or depression

·     Isolation

Write your feelings in a journal, do small creative projects, speak to a close friend or therapist, visit a support group in person or online, and practice relaxed breathing exercises to encourage balance in your emotions.

Mental symptoms

·     Worry

·     Challenges managing information

·     Juggling obligations for you, as well as your loved one

Meditation, quiet reflection, mindfulness, and clear systems for keeping track of information will help you find more peace in your thoughts.  Make certain to take time for yourself each day, whether it is taking time for a movie or a good book.

Spiritual symptoms

·     Questioning your faith

·     Self-doubt

·     Inner emptiness

If spiritual stress is your challenge, turn off your phone, television, computer, and turn inward to nourish a relationship with yourself.  Prayer, spiritual readings, poetry, and quiet reflection can soothe your Spirit. Also, take time outdoors; and find peace in the blessings of nature, be in touch with someone who can bring a smile to your face.

Managing stress can have positive affects on your health if you are willing to take action in your own behalf, ask for support when you need it, and be open to an ongoing conversation with yourself to notice your changing needs.

Additional self-care resources for the Caregiver

Here’s a list of 10 tips from the National Family Caregivers Organization

Click on this link for caregiver resources:

Click here for a caregiver fact sheet: