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Being aware of stress and managing your emotions as a carer


"Since I have been reading the leaflets and going to the Parkinson's society meetings, I have read and talked about it and how it affects people and what to expect, I no longer feel so alone"


  • The emotional stress of providing care is in general more burdensome than the physical demands and financial strain. Most carers find that they become more easily stressed. Many feel constantly tired, depressed or lonely.

  • You may find that caring gives rise to a range of emotions. Often there is a feeling of grief and loss of:
  • emotional and sexual companionship of a friend and partner
  • personal identity, hope and plans for the future
  • income and financial security
  • social opportunities and outlets.
  • Feelings of emotional pain and sadness, of isolation, loneliness, frustration over lack of choice and loss of control are common. The sense of being alone, with no one else really understanding the true situation, and the unpredictability and fear of what may happen next can be emotionally draining. Many carers find that they lose the ability to relax and can become depressed and anxious.

  • There are three main ways to help you to cope with stress:

  • Relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, calm down bodily reactions and increase sense of well-being. To benefit most from relaxation, you must practice on a regular basis. Put time aside each day. People with PD will also find that relaxation techniques help their tremor and muscle stiffness.

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  • §Your thoughts can also contribute to how much stress you are experiencing. Negative thoughts increase stress reactions and make it more difficult to deal with situations (for example, “I will never learn to cope with this situation”). It is helpful to identify such negative thoughts and then to generate alternative more positive, stress-reducing thoughts (for example, “I will relax and approach the situation step by step”). Finally, you can test out your positive thoughts in situations of everyday life.

  • §Your activities will also help you to cope with stress. Planning in advance what activities you are going to do will prevent overload. Making sure that you spend time doing some pleasant activities will make life more enjoyable and help you to recover after stressful experiences.

  • §Incorporate relaxation into your daily routine - perhaps by putting regular time aside for watching a favourite television programme, listening to music, a leisurely walk, or an unhurried bath.  Listening to a relaxation tape, counselling sessions, yoga, aromatherapy or reflexology may all be beneficial.

Your family doctor, Parkinson’s Disease Nurse Specialist or social worker will be able to offer advice and refer you to other sources of support.

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (tel  0870 443 5219)  can provide contact details of local counsellors in your area http://www.bacp.co.uk

Carers UK (tel 0808 8087777) have various booklets about coping with the stresses of caregiving and also organise local support groups  ( http://www.carersonline.org.uk)

The Relaxation in Living Trust (tel 01983 868166) produces relaxation tapes and information on local relaxation classes.

Useful books include:

‘Staying Sane: Managing the Stress of Caring’ by Tanya Arroba and Lesley Bell, published in 2001 by Age Concern Books, London. ISBN 0 862 422 671


This site has been established for the dissemination of information. While every effort is made to ensure that information on this site is accurate and current we accept no liability for any omissions or inaccuracies that may have crept in. If in any doubt please contact your doctor for further advice.

Last Modified 13 August 2004
Maintained by Matthew Harris