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16 Stress Reducing Strategies

By Lisa Bailey
(Page 2 of 3)

7. Control what you can control. Lots of articles about stress-management advise letting go of control; however, I have found that being in control of some areas of my life has greatly reduced my stress.

a. Get help with housework—paid or unpaid. Help with household chores has helped to make our home a cleaner refuge for Phil as he recovers and a sanctuary for me.

b. Get help with yard work—paid or unpaid. Our backyard is our vacation destination this year; we eat most meals on the deck, enjoy the variety of birds that visit our birdfeeders, play cards, do art work and garden. Help with yard work makes this vacation destination possible.

c. Prepare meals in advance and freeze them. I do bulk cooking and freeze pre-prepared meals

d. Keep bills and insurance paperwork organized so there are fewer financial surprises. Make necessary phone calls to insurance companies, and pay bills, or call to arrange payments, on time.

e. Plan your work; then work your plan. Be efficient at your outside job and in taking care of home stuff. Don’t let things pile up.

f. Do three things every evening before you go to bed—laundry, dishes and take out the garbage. The morning will be much more of a gift.

8. Let go of what you cannot control. For me, this means “let go and let God.” I carry a scripture in my pocket from Jeremiah 29:11 which says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Cancer is what it is; I cannot change that, but I can and do trust God for our future.

9. Nest. Everyone, especially people who are recovering from illness or injury and their caregiver, needs a comfy chair—a place to relax and rejuvenate. Make a comfortable nest for your loved one and for yourself by adding afghans, pillows, fresh flowers, candles, books and great music to your comfy chair area. This is important to do both at your home and at the hospital should there be an extended stay there.

10. Make comfort food. Think about what your patient is hungry for, and then consider the details—digestibility, comfort, correct textures, temperature and presentation. A compassionate and informative book that I found helpful as I prepared food for Phil following chemotherapy and surgery is Laurel’s Kitchen Caring: Recipes for Everyday Home Caregiving, by Laurel Robertson, with Carol Lee Flinders and Brian Ruppenthal, R.D. Laurel speaks with such love for both the patient and the caregiver and her encouraging voice revives my spirit for caregiving, especially in providing good nutrition for healing.

11. Enjoy life today. During my husband’s chemotherapy treatments, our world becomes pretty small. We find that watching television is an important diversion, and we have become fans of shows we probably never would have discovered without some enforced downtime. We also play cards and Monopoly, put puzzles together and rent many movies. I found a new interest in sewing, knitting and watercolor painting. Phil, a drummer, has never stopped his daily drumming practice or working at his business from home. We try to enjoy simple pleasures everyday. We remember that Phil is a person with interests, not just a cancer patient. And I, too, am a person with interests; not just a cancer patient’s caregiver.

12. Journal for yourself. There are so many ways to re-center yourself, but none works as well as journaling, in my opinion. Even if you have never kept a journal, starting one now will help you clarify feelings, manage the stress and plan the work you need to do as caregiver.

13. Keep a vision for the future. None of us comes here to stay; we know that. But we also know that we can “grow until we go,” and we should. One scripture that came right to mind when Phil was first diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer was “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs. 29:18 KJV. We make plans for our future.

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