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"
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.
may find that caring gives rise to a range of emotions. Often there is a
feeling of grief and loss of:
and sexual companionship of a friend and partner
identity, hope and plans for the future
and financial security
opportunities and outlets.
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.
are three main ways to help you to cope with stress:
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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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.
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.
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
The Relaxation in Living Trust (tel
01983 868166) produces relaxation tapes and information on local
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