As a family caregiver, you are exposed to a great deal of stress. This stress can leak over into other areas of your life if you don’t learn how to manage it effectively. Maintaining a stress journal can help you with that.
Keep it with You
Some people feel that they should leave their stress journal at home, but the truth is that stressful situations can happen anywhere. They might hit while you’re taking your loved one to the doctor or while you’re out running errands for your loved one. No matter what, a stressful episode can pop up. If you have your journal with you, you can get the details down while they’re fresh.
Describe What Happened
The first step is to quickly make an account of what happened. You’ll want to stick to the facts in this section. Describing what happened can help you to figure out what it was exactly about the situation that caused a stress reaction for you.
Describe How You Felt
Next you’ll want to start writing down how you felt. Remember that stress can hit you on multiple levels, both physical and emotional. Be sure to be thorough about describing what you felt during your stressful episode. The more detailed you are, the more information you’ll have later.
Describe What You Did
Finally, you’ll want to note down what it was that you did in response to the stressful situation. Perhaps you shut down or you snapped at your loved one. If you did something that made you feel better and less stressed, be sure to write that down as well. This section is ultimately going to help you to determine if what you’re trying is working.
Go Back to Your Entries When You’re Calmer
Later, either a few days or a few hours later, go back over your notes. When you’re in a calmer state of mind, you might spot something that you didn’t notice when you were in the situation. Start brainstorming how you could have handled the situation better so that you have other tools the next time you’re stressed.
Keeping a regular accounting of your stress and how you manage it can give you valuable insights that help you to be a better caregiver to your elderly loved one.
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