The 4 Biggest Caregiver Stressors And How To Deal With Them.

People supporting their parents, spouse or families battle cancer are prone to caregiver stressors. Your whole life changes when this horrible disease drops in and the anxiety is insane. Practicing self-care, learning how to work from home, and implementing tips and ideas that actually work (and a who lot of prayers) are the keys to staying strong and inspired, so you can fight. Health and safety are the most important things. #cancersucks #caregiverstressorsandhowtodealwiththem

NO ONE could prepare for the stressors that are faced by a caregiver who is helping someone they love battle cancer.  This whole cancer experience is incredibly overwhelming and will crush you if you let it. 

Here are the four biggest caregiver stressors that occur when you’re battling cancer with someone you love and the strategies to deal with them.

Update:  If you have no idea how to deal with all this cancer business, we can help you formulate a plan to tackle the immediate issues… finding the best care, talking with your insurance company, finding resources that will actually help, and 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…

 Caregiver Stressors #1:  Overwhelm

Before my dad was diagnosed with Lung Cancer it didn’t matter if I was a mess or if I wasted a ton of time on things that had no bearing on my life.

But once cancer exploded into our lives, I had to figure out a way to organize all of this stuff and I didn’t have time to figure out a super complicated process.

“Why can’t we ever find what we need? Who can find anything in this mess?  I swear, I just had that paper yesterday!”

Sound Familiar?

Cancer is like a whirlwind of information and emergencies flying at you from every angle.

It’s easy for important information to get lost in the chaos.  And it’s really easy to forget to communicate something important because there are “emotionally charged” distractions coming at you every moment.

After losing several important documents and a disk that took days to replace, we figured out a system that could be set up in less than an hour and took minutes to maintain.

The First Step to Getting Organized

We needed something quick and easy that I could set up fast…  and we needed it to actually work.

Getting organized started with paperwork and during the process we created The Cancer Binder Pack (which you can get here, it’s 100% FREE)…

The Cancer Binder Pack will walk you through step by step so you can get all of your important medical information organized and under control, for free. 

We used it to organize…

The Cancer Binder Pack actually works, it’s quick to set up, super easy to use and requires no extra effort to maintain.

You get more info about the Cancer Binder Pack here (it’s totally free)…

Our Next Steps to Getting Organized

 Do you ever find yourself wondering…?

 How will I get all this done?  What if I screw this up?  How in the world can ANYONE keep all of this straight?

We know exactly how you feel.

Cancer involves constant running around to doctor appointments, treatments, scans, physical therapy, and after that there may be caregiving duties like bathing, changing, meals, etc. you may need to do as well.  One of the most difficult caregiver stressors to deal with is overwhelm.

Once you’ve done all that, you now have to find time for everything else.

You know, like spouses, raising kids, working, an hour or two of “me time” once in a while…

Before you know it you’re totally overloaded.

Anything that helps you get better organized and saves you time from constantly scrambling around is a GODSENT. 

Because there are times that it feels impossible to manage all this stuff.

Small Changes That Make a Big Difference

There are a few small changes that made a big difference in my ability to manage everything.

Implement the Cancer Binder Pack: Once the medical stuff was organized we could ALWAYS find what we needed without spending extra time scrambling around.  You can get the pack for free here…

Figure out what’s important: Make a list of everything that needs to be done and then identify what can wait/can’t be missed, etc.

 Use a Planner: Keep track of your schedule in a planner so you always know where you need to be.  You can also plan meals, write notes, create a shopping list, keep track of paydays and due dates right in the planner.   

 Meal Planning: Plan your meals in advance.  Make sure you have all the ingredients you need in the house and stick to 15-minute meals.  This one change will save you a TON of time and money.  

Always have a bag packed: Emergencies are a huge part of cancer.  And they don’t come with a whole lot of “prep” time before you have to go running out the door.  Have a bag already packed so you can just grab it and go.

Find time for you: It feels impossible sometimes, but you have to find some time to relax, decompress and do something fun.  If you don’t it will catch up to you quick.  This type of stress is devastating and constant and nothing you can do will take it all way, so you have to make time for a break as often as possible.

Caregiver Stressors #2: The Fear and The Stress

 Fear creates a lot of stress when it comes to cancer because the stakes are so high.  We’re not talking about high blood pressure here; we are talking life and death.

And things can change in an instant.

When cancer explodes into your world, you start to see things differently… 

  • The things you love.
  • Things you’ve taken for granted.
  • The things you wish you had paid more attention too.

Suddenly you realize that life is a lot shorter than you thought.

It’s human nature, we don’t realize how precious life is until the things you love are threatened.  It sucks that the only way we seem to be able to truly appreciate things is when we are faced with a tragedy.

The fact is, we do appreciate life when everything is good.

But the IMPACT is so much different when your whole world is crashing down around you. 

And when everything is crashing down, the stress is unbelievable.  Cancer makes you so tired that no matter how much you sleep you get you don’t feel any better.

 I spent a good amount of time in a zombie-like state, just going through the motions. 

 After about a month or so, you won’t even remember what it feels like to have energy.  You just learn to live in a physically and emotionally exhausted state and you get used to it.  These two Caregiver Stressors are intense!

What’s the secret to keep fighting when you’re exhausted?

How to Combat Fear and Stress

Take Back Your Life From Cancer: This free workbook was created for my family about halfway through our battle when the stress and the fear were at an all-time high.  You can grab the workbook for free here…So we could gear up to keep fighting hard (even when we were exhausted), we needed to…

Take a Deep Breath: A simple but effective way to help you relax in less than a minute.  No, it won’t solve everything, but you’ll feel a big difference after this one little action.  Deep breathing is a proven method of lowering stress and helping you get through life’s challenges.  You just have to remember to do it!

Put Things in Perspective: This experience is terrifying, and it changes constantly so you can never actually trust that you’re in a stable place.  Whatever is happening right now, it’s probably not as scary as is it is in your head.  I’m not saying that the situation is good, but I am saying that you have survived every challenge that has been thrown your way up until this point and you are going to survive this too. Hang in there…

Ask for help: You can’t do everything by yourself, you’ll burn out fast.  And if that happens, you won’t be able to help anyone.  Figure out the people who can help, the people you can rely on.  Even if it’s just for an hour.

Anything you can remove from your to-do list is time that you can use to relax, spend time with your family, catch up on sleep, read a book or grab coffee with your best friend.

And trust me, there is not a huge amount of time to any of those things so you should take advantage of every single second you have. (And yes, sitting quietly staring at the wall totally counts!  At least it’s a break!)

 Help can be as simple as…

  • A neighbor to cook a meal or do a few loads of laundry.
  • A friend to pick up the kids or grab a prescription.
  • Your sister to cover a doctor’s appointment.
  • A cousin to mow the lawn or fix the front door.
  • Your sister-in-law to give you an hour off.

Talk to Someone: Unload some of this stuff you’re carrying around.  You won’t believe how much better you feel when you get some of it off your chest.   It may be exactly what you need to get your head back in the game.  Talk to a friend, a family member, a co-worker, or text a therapist (which by the way you can do while you are running all over the place.)  You HAVE to push through this.  Your loved one needs you.  Talking to someone will help.

Laugh: Laughing is an incredible (and natural) stress reliever.  Sometimes my family and I just laughed because we honestly couldn’t believe how crazy everything was and we didn’t know what else to do.  You won’t believe how much better you feel.  Make laughing a priority and find something that will make you laugh so hard you cry.

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

Prayer: There are very few things that are certain during this journey. Things are changing constantly and whatever direction you are heading in now could take a sharp left by tomorrow.  God is the only one who knows what’s actually going to happen here.   We were told in the beginning that my dad had “days to weeks” to live.  And we battled Lung Cancer for 21 months (and finished two bucket lists).  A lot of meaningful time and some pretty amazing things happened over the course of our journey.  In the end, God was the only one who knew what was actually going to happen.

Exercise: Expel some of this negative energy while walking, running, hiking, boxing, swimming, CrossFit (the list is endless).  Working through some of this stress through exercise is a great way to shed some of the stress and keep yourself healthy at the same time.  It’s one of the best ways to combat the stress and it totally works.

Break Things: During our cancer journey, my husband and I spent an entire weekend ripping out all of the bedroom ceilings of our house.  We pulled down tons (and I mean TONS) of plaster and lathe and replaced it with new updated ceilings.

And we did all the work ourselves.  By the end of the ceilings, we were both totally exhausted.  But there is nothing in the world like the feeling of taking on a huge project like that and breaking everything in your path.

It was an absolutely incredible stress reliever.  And as a bonus, the ceilings looked great.  We ROCKED it.

Caregiver Stressors #3: Money

Cancer is expensive.  Like really expensive.  And if you’re helping someone you love battle this terrible disease, your whole life will be turned upside down.  So, a 9-5 job and full-time caregiving may not be a manageable situation.

And if you’re anything like me, you might be in a position where you can’t work a regular (40-hour a week) job but your family also can’t survive without your paycheck. 

When you have a spouse and children who are relying on your paycheck to pay the bills and survive, but someone close to you (like a parent) is diagnosed with cancer and can’t fight the battle without a lot of physical and emotional support… you may feel like you have to make a choice about what’s more important.  This is one of the most stressful caregiver stressors to deal with if you don’t know your options.

So how can work a full-time job and make your loved one the priority they are? 

How can you collect a paycheck while you are the main support system and you’re running around fighting cancer?

The truth is, it’s never been easier than it is right now.

The key is a flexible job that allows you to work around your priorities.

And, thanks to the internet, there is a huge market of jobs that allows you to work from anywhere.

My job as a virtual assistant is the reason I was able to support my dad through a 21-month cancer battle and still make sure our bills were paid.

It wasn’t easy, but it was possible because I could work from literally anywhere including waiting rooms, hospitals, hotel rooms, my parents’ house…

And so can you.

Ways To Make Money As A Caregiver

Get paid to be a caregiver: If your family is eligible, you may be able to get paid for dealing with all of these caregiver stressors and the work you are already doing.  It will require some extra work on your part but this is a great way for you to be able to pay your bills and help someone you love battle cancer.  You can find more information here…

Flex Jobs: Flex Jobs is our #1 recommendation for jobs that work around you and your hectic life.  They specialize in flexible and remote positions and they have a HUGE database with jobs in every specialty you can think of.  You can get more info on Flex Jobs here…

Get paid for skills you already have: You probably already have skills and previous experience that will make you money.  We can point you in a direction to figure out what to do with it…

Start a side hustle: There are quite a few side hustles that will work for this situation and don’t take months to get started.  We can help you find those here…

Flexible jobs that allow you to work from anywhere can make sure that you can pay your bills and battle cancer, our best tips for making money from anywhere can be found here…

Caregiver Stressors #4: Depression and Anxiety

I am naturally one of those happy go lucky people who can ALMOST ALWAYS find the silver lining in any situation.  That being said, cancer is not a typical situation and these caregiver stressors can leave lasting effects.

 Cancer journeys are full of panic, anxiety, and depression and those feelings dominate everything.  

There were days during our journey, that I could barely get out of bed and I cried all day.  At night I would worry to the point of sleeplessness and then try to make it through the next day on whatever sleep I managed to get.  These are the hardest caregiver stressors to cope with.

Feelings of hopelessness creep in and it feels like it’s never going to get better.  Keeping your head in the game becomes the new battle you have to fight.

You want to sleep all the time and doing anything, getting off the couch, makes you feel like you ran a marathon.

Dealing with Stress and Anxiety

There are no easy answers for this section, but these helped me…

Embrace the miserable: This pain is real and it’s raw, and it definitely can’t be ignored.  And most of the time you don’t have time to even 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…

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.

Write It Out: I am convinced that the only way I survived the stress of this journey and the death of my dad, was this blog.  Here, I can unload all of the things I am feeling and hopefully make things a little easier for you in the process.

You have to get some of this stuff off your chest. 

This kind of stress and anxiety is really intense and dangerous to your health.  Writing it all down may help you find some relief, some perspective and the motivation to keep going.

We can help!

You can get Take Back Your Life From Cancer a free workbook that we created for my family about halfway through our battle when the stress fear and anxiety were at an all-time high.

So we could keep fighting hard (even when we were exhausted), we needed to…

You can grab Take Back Your Life for free here…

Talk to someone who can help: The stress and anxiety will eat you alive and you feel like you can’t escape.  You have to unload some of this stuff you’re carrying around.  You won’t believe how much better you feel once you get it off your chest.   Talk to a friend, a family member, a co-worker, or text a therapist (which by the way you can do while you are running all over the place.)

Get out and do something fun: Sometimes taking a break is exactly what you need.  Get out of the house, go for a walk, catch a movie, take a drive, head to the beach, go for a swim, grab lunch, spend some time reading…

Whatever you feel like doing, make arrangement for someone to cover with your loved one for a short period of time and go do it.  If today is not a possibility, then make it happen tomorrow.

Spend Time with people that make you happy: Family, friends, neighbors, kids, nieces, nephews, GRANDCHILDREN…  They are the key to everything.  The reason that my dad kept fighting for as long as he did was so he could be here with the people he loved.  His grandchildren came first and the rest of us came (a close) second.  ????

The people that make you happy, have a way of making everything feel better just by being around.  And kids not only make you feel better, but they are also a great distraction

 Identify Tools that help you stay in a good place: Figure out what works for you and make sure you always have it available.  Keeping a “bag of tricks” that you can use when things get intense can be a great way to stay mentally healthy and take a break when you need one!

 And they can be simple things, as long as they make you feel good!

  • Bubble baths
  • Cuddle with your dog
  • Journaling
  • Herbal Tea
  • Prayers
  • Mommy/daughter dates
  • Read a good book
  • Music
  • Aromatherapy

Figure out what works for you and keep it on hand.

 Get Physical: There are literally hundreds of ways that you can get physical and combat stress at the same time.  Most importantly, it’s about finding something you love to do, that feels good and doing it.

Way to get physical like…

  • Exercise
  • Take the dog for a walk
  • Jog 20 blocks
  • Play at the playground with your kids
  • Clean out the garage
  • Do some gardening
  • Participate in a relay for life
  • Go out dancing
  • Take the kids skating or bowling
  • Take a hike

You’ll use your muscles, get some exercise and feel better in the process.

 Talk to a doctor about options (including medication): This is not a typical situation, but it’s probably going to be a long situation.  The stress is the most intense thing I have every experienced and you need to be game on, all the time.

If you are struggling to get yourself back in the game, it may be time to talk to the doctor about something that can help.  About 8 months into our journey, I felt like if I didn’t talk to the doctor about something to help with the anxiety, the stress alone was going to kill me.

The medicine they gave me helped tremendously with the constant worrying about everything.  Talk honestly with your doctor about what this experience is like for you and what you’re struggling with.  There may be something that can make a big difference in whatever caregiver stressors you happen to be going through.

And there you have it, the four biggest caregiver stressors and how to deal with them.  If we missed any, let us know in the comments…

P.S.  If you’re drowning in all this cancer business, and you have no idea where to start…  The Cancer Combat Plan is a step by step guide from someone who has struggled through this and found ways to manage the chaos, the stress and the overwhelm.   

Things feel better, and more in control when you have a plan.  So if you’re looking for action steps, resources, and strategies that will help you manage this crisis, we’ve got you covered. And it’s totally free… 

You can get the Cancer Combat Plan for free here…

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