6 Ideas for Staying Calm and Reducing Caregiver Stress

Caregiving is incredibly rewarding, important work—but that doesn’t stop it from being stressful. As you work to provide loving assistance for your friend, family member, or client with autism, keep in mind these helpful tips to bring down feelings of anxiety and stress. Your friends at Ability Life Solutions are here to help with six ways for caregivers to reduce stress.

Practice Breathing Exercises

A fast heart rate is often because you’re not getting enough oxygen. Breathing exercises help you slow down your heart rate and keep you calm.

Pursed-Lip Breathing

Pursed-lip breathing helps to keep your heart rate down and mitigate anxiety. It is a great exercise for caregivers because you can do it in any position, from sitting to standing to lying down. Simply relax your body and breathe in through your nose. Then, purse your lips in a tight “O” shape and breathe out. The most important part about this exercise is to breathe out for twice the time that you breathe in. 

Diaphragmatic Breathing

If you find yourself with a little more time on your hands, you can try diaphragmatic breathing. It might sound complicated, but all it means is that you’ll engage your diaphragm—a muscle found right below your lungs. This breathing exercise helps to strengthen your diaphragm, making it easier to breathe calmly in the future.

To start, you’ll want to lie down on your back and bend your knees (keeping your feet flat on the floor). Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. While breathing deeply, try to make your stomach rise and fall without moving your chest. This may feel strange at first, but with a little practice, you’ll be able to breathe into your diaphragm.

Take Up Meditation

Meditation is a tried and tested practice that’s effective for reducing stress. There are many different meditation styles, but one that’s great for reducing stress in the moment is mantra meditation.

Professional caregivers can reduce their stress by silently repeating a calming word or phrase, known as a mantra. A mantra could be a sound like, “aum,” or a tranquil phrase, such as, “I can and I will.” This helps to keep your mind focused on one thing, rather than allowing distractions to take over. 

Accept that You Don’t Have Control Over Everything

It’s only natural to want to oversee every aspect of your autistic loved one’s life. However, the sooner you let go of this desire, the better for you and the person with autism you’re caring for. 

A family playing board games together

You can’t control another person’s decisions—but you can control how you react to them. You’ll find more peace if you wait to offer advice when asked, and they’ll appreciate the freedom. It’s also helpful to remember that you shouldn’t take it personally if your guidance isn’t followed. Neurodivergent minds may take advice down an unexpected path, but there’s no need to feel surprised or frustrated.

Listen to Music You Love

A simple act like listening to a half-hour of music every day can work wonders for your stress levels. Studies have shown that taking time to enjoy music calms you down. Try putting on your favorite songs whenever you’re doing an activity like cooking, cleaning, or exercising

Do a Daily Workout

Exercise is a great way to manage feelings of stress and anxiety in your life. Physical activity increases the feel-good hormones in your brain, which reduce nervousness. If you’re not used to exercising regularly, that’s okay! You can start small with our 30-day walking challenge. Just remember: you shouldn’t start any exercise plan without talking to your doctor.

Ask for Help

You don’t have to do everything alone. Make sure you lean on friends and family members in your support system to reduce your stress. Even if they can’t assist in providing care, they can act as an outlet for you to vent your frustrations, have a friendly chat, or offer support.

You can also reach out to your friends at Ability Life Solutions. We’re happy to provide a consultation and get to the bottom of what’s stressing you out. We want you to live more and worry less.

A mother playing with her two sons

Are there any calming tips for caregivers that we missed? Connect with the community on Facebook and share your ideas—what works for you? If you’re looking for more caregiver support, watch this video from the Children’s Specialized Hospital. There are some truly incredible suggestions!

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