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10 Powerful Ways to Cope with Caregiver Stress.

10 ways to practice caregiver stress management that you actually have time for. Easy coping skills will give you the fire to keep fighting.

I could feel it the second I opened my eyes.  It’s gonna be one of those days.  

I’m exhausted.  I literally had to drag myself out of bed and into the shower.

And now, I have to find the energy to tackle the insane day ahead of me.

What’s the secret to dealing with all the responsibilities of being a caregiver when you’re drowning under all of this stress? 

What’s the secret to caregiver stress management?

There is NO easy answer to how to deal with a cancer diagnosis in your family. It’s a shock. One that involves a ton of stress and panic. 

You’re going to have to deal with this thing head on. The absolute worst thing you can do right now is ignore this situation and hope it will go away. 

That’s not how cancer (or life) works. 

Young caregiver with her eyes closed practicing Caregiver Stress Management

One minute everything is fine (maybe not fine, but at least not earth-shattering), and in the next minute your whole world is turned upside down. 

You should give yourself some time (and some grace) to work through your feelings (whatever they are) which isn’t going to be an easy task. 

Keep in mind: A cancer battle is like a crazy emotional roller coaster ride you can’t get off. 

There are moments when you’re a mess and the future looks bleak. Then there are moments full of promise when you feel hopeful about the future. 

There are days you can barely get out of bed because you’re so stressed and tired that you can barely move. And then there are days when you wake up (still tired!) thankful for all the time you’ve been given. 

It’s a constant struggle every day to deal with the overwhelm that’s flying at you.  Caregiver stress management is the solution.

Everything you are feeling (or struggling with) is normal… 
  • Anger 
  • Grief 
  • Depression 
  • Overwhelm 
  • Denial 
  • Fear 
  • Anxiety 
  • Panic
  • Guilt 
  • Loneliness 
  • Hope 
  • Strength 
  • Motivation 

The first step is to acknowledge how you are feeling.  

Grab a notebook or a piece of paper and answer the following questions…

  1. What emotions you’re feeling?  Are you angry? Scared?  Depressed? Confused? Are you feeling all of it?  Write them all down.  

(PS: don’t ignore feelings you think are wrong.  Things like relief that it’s not you who is diagnosed, and guilt for feeling that way are NORMAL).  

  1. Which emotion is the loudest?   What feelings seem to be the most problematic for you right now?
  1. What (specifically) is happening that is making you feel this emotion?  For example:  
  • I’m scared.  What specifically are you scared of? 
  • I’m angry.   What specifically are you angry about?  
  • I’m anxious.  What specifically are you anxious about?  

There is no right way to feel and you certainly can’t help how you feel.  Being aware of what you’re feeling is a huge first step.  It will give you the information you need to start tackling those feelings. 

***Hint:  There are some incredibly intense feelings involved with a cancer diagnosis in your family.  
  • If you feel like you should talk to someone but have no idea how you would find the time.
  • Or,  if the idea of sitting in a room with someone telling them your darkest secrets is extremely intimidating… 

The changes in the world over the last few years have made it EASY to talk to a therapist as part of your caregiver stress management.  

Talkspace gives you access to a licensed therapist on YOUR schedule and from the comfort of your home.  They work with some insurances and offer tools and solutions to help you navigate the challenges and anxiety that will pop up as a result of this situation.  

Worried that you won’t be able to talk freely to a therapist?  A lot of these conversations are done by text, so you won’t have to worry about being overheard or interrupted constantly.  

It’s like having just one more weapon in your arsenal to get through this situation.

You can learn more about Talkspace here…

Now, let’s talk about some of the coping skills that we can use to cope with some of those feelings. 

Caregiver Stress Management Tips

1. Embrace the Miserable 

This pain is real and it’s raw, and it definitely can’t be ignored. And, you will feel like you don’t have time to deal with it. You have to make time. 

Spend a day or two feeling miserable. Be sad, feel sorry for yourself, whine, cry, scream, meltdown, be mad at the world… 

Fair warning: Some days completely suck, everything is falling apart, and it feels like it will never get better. Determination isn’t always going to be enough to keep you going.  

This does suck…  This is unfair…  You can be mad at the world…  No one should have to deal with this shit… Those are pretty natural feelings but if you feel unsafe talk to someone immediately… 

Sadness and some depression are a part of cancer and trying to pretend that it wasn’t happening didn’t work for me and I doubt it will work for you. 

I gave myself a day or two to go through the pain, cry, stress, and be miserable… and then I would get up, brush myself off and get my head back in the game. 

My dad used to always say, things look better in the morning. And he was right, every single time. Be sad, be miserable, be angry… but don’t stay there.

 2. Have a Meltdown

Crying is an incredible stress reliever. I always feel so much better after I cry everything out. Aside from the swollen eyes, and the overall feeling of exhaustion once you’re done… 

Crying is a great way to get some of the pain and the stress out of your system. 

  • It helps you shed some of this intense pressure.
  • Crying releases endorphins that actually help you feel better.
  • Besides, how else could you achieve that blotchy face and eyes that are practically swelled shut look?  

Head’s up… If you’re drowning in the overwhelm of a cancer diagnosis, we can help you SIMPLIFY the complex issues that come with cancer.  

  • Finding the best care
  • Talking with your insurance company
  • Finding resources that will actually help
  • Dealing with the fear, anxiety, and overwhelm of this whole situation.
You can get the Cancer Combat Plan FREE here…

3. Write it all out

This is a huge part of getting through cancer.  I had no idea what a difference writing things out would make to how you feel and how you are able to handle everything. It’s an incredible way to put caregiver stress management into practice.

The only way I made it through any of this cancer business was because of this blog. I am always writing down everything I’m feeling and all the action steps we took to get through this.

Constantly unloading the thoughts, fears, anxieties, and stress out of my mind and onto paper makes a huge difference for my mental health. 

The truth is, you feel like you are drowning in this whole situation and your mind can be your worst enemy. It jumps right to some of the most terrifying ideas you can comprehend. 

Writing some of this stuff out helps you get it off your chest, solve obstacles that are blocking the way and find some perspective in what can feel like a hopeless situation. 

This whole situation sucks, I know. But I also know that some of the most incredible people have emerged out of the most devastating situations. 

If you don’t know where to start

You can write to me any time at cancerbombblog@gmail.com.  (It may take me a few days, but I answer every single email.) You can also grab our free journal, Take Back Your Life From Cancer here… 

If writing is not your thing 

You still need to get this stuff off your chest.  Talk to someone. Talk to a friend, a family member or I highly recommend a professional. Nowadays, you don’t even have to leave your house. You can talk to a professional online or text with them back and forth as you work through some of your feelings. 

4. Find things you can control

I never really considered this to be caregiver stress management until someone pointed it out to me. Have you ever been in a situation that is completely OUT of your control?

(P.S. If you’re reading this, you are in one right now!) 

For me the situation was WAY out of control, but I was trying so hard to get it under control I was actually driving myself (and anyone else who tried to help me), crazy. 

It helps you feel more in control of this whole situation when you have systems in place that help you keep things straight and organized.  Planning ahead as much as possible (so when things get crazy you don’t drown in the craziness). 

5. Figure out how to manage your time

Going forward life will change drastically and there are going to be a lot of constraints on your time. Figuring out how to manage all of this can be really challenging. (Don’t panic, we can help with that too.) 

Things like… 

  • Weekly Schedules 
  • Appointments
  • Meals
  • Groceries
  • Laundry  
  • Dishes  
  • Work  
  • Paying Bills  

You have to figure out how to handle everything else that comes with this disease. 

The appointments, treatments, tests, side effects… the list is endless. 

You need a foolproof yet flexible system so you know in advance…

  • Where you need to be.
  • What you need to do.
  • And how you can head off as much of the insanity as possible.

A system like this changes everything.

The Weekly Planning Pages make the chaos of a cancer schedule easier to manage and makes it simple to plan ahead. 

You can learn more about the Weekly Planning Pages here…

 

6. Get all of your medical information organized

So you can find everything you need. (We have a FREE Cancer Binder Pack that will help with this part…)  

The Cancer Binder pack is an easy to follow system and once you’re set up it takes minutes to maintain. It helps you keep everything you need in one place so you can find it easily.  

  • Skip hours trying to find that one page you need to sign in a stack of paperwork.  
  • NO more losing the information that you really need.
  • Forget scrambling for lost documents, and calling for replacement disks.

This system will save you hours of scrambling around searching for things, replacing things, locating things.  And we walk you through the whole system step by step so you can do it yourself with printable forms you can easily complete.

Sometimes caregiver stress management comes in the form of getting your stuff together. The Cancer Binder Pack includes calendar pages to keep track of where you are going and where you’ve been.  

It’s great for tracking side effects, symptoms, medication refills, appointments, scans/tests, so you have specific dates and data of what’s actually happening. (The world works on data, and doctors definitely do).  They always ask “when did that start?”  “How long has that been going on?”

The Cancer Binder Pack is made from the information we were asked repeatedly.  

You can grab it for free by clicking here…

7. Do things that make you happy

grandfather fishing off the dock with grandson

 Spend time with the people you love. Play with your children or your grandchildren (kids are an incredible distraction and totally drop your stress level.) They are one of the only things that can produce that bright light you need in some of the darkest times. And they can do that just by being around.

 Plan some outings. Take a trip. It doesn’t have to be a long trip. Go to the park. Do a little fishing, take in a show, go to a movie, or a special dinner. How about a trip to the beach or a place you have always wanted to go. 

There are so many things that cancer takes from us, don’t let it take this. 

It’s human nature and quite frankly the whole purpose of life. To live. Each and every day, no matter what the circumstances. You and your loved one NEED things to be excited about. You need things to look forward to. If we don’t have those what is the point? 

Cancer doesn’t get to take that away from you. Yes, things may be different. There will be days you’ll spend all day in the doctor’s office. And other days when you feel like spending all day in bed. But, there will be other days when you make sure you and your loved one do something amazing. Even if it’s only for a short time. 

8. Figure out what works

The stress, anxiety and pressure of this situation is really intense. Suddenly you start having trouble sleeping, you’re anxious and worried about everything and when you toss in a little depression about the future, well things can get crazy overwhelming. 

Find things that help with the stress and give you a break for all of this. Cancer is a lot of stress and you’ll need it. You can find 117 Ways to Take A Break From Cancer here… 

Figuring out ways to combat stress has to be a priority… 

9. Vent Sometimes

When things get really overwhelming and I’m not sure what to do, I just need to unload all of this stuff that I am feeling. Partly to get it all out and partly to see if ANYONE can understand where I am at. 

While they might not be able to completely relate, it is nice to have people who can support you, and help you when you need it. Find those people and seek them out. 

Trust me, they will be a lifeline on the days that suck. (And there are soooo many days that suck!)

10. Pray

This whole situation is totally out of control. And, no one knows what’s going to happen here, not even the doctors. God is the only one who knows how this is going to go. 

Praying and giving this all to God, feels like a huge weight is being lifted off your shoulders. A huge weight. Just give it to Him. He’s the only one who’s in control of all of this anyway.  

If you’re not sure how to give it to God, this is something I struggle with as well.  What made the most difference for me was a bible study that focuses on how to give your stress and your fears to God. 

You can check out I Choose Trust the bible study that I use here…

When you wake up feeling like you’re already behind and you have NO idea where you’ll find the energy to get through the day, I want to remind you that YOU CAN DO this!  

Caregiver stress management is one of the hardest parts of this battle. You just need a plan, a bit of prep work, and a toolbox full of resources to help you get through.

Let’s do this!

P.S. If you have no idea how to deal with a cancer diagnosis, we can help you formulate a plan to SIMPLIFY the complex “stuff” that comes with this disease…  

  • Finding the best care
  • Talking with your insurance company.
  • Finding resources that will actually help.
  • Dealing with the fear, anxiety, and overwhelm of this whole situation.

We can’t control the cancer, but we CAN show you how to manage this crisis.   And it’s 100% Free. 

You can get the Cancer Combat Plan FREE here…

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