Happy New Year! I am so pleased to share with you on a personal level how to manage stress and to move forward. I attended a workshop in Bryn Mar, PA on “Developing A Psychological Hardiness For Caregivers” this past week and wanted to share some interesting findings with you.
Each of us has the ability to make decisions on how we react to life’s stressors. I am a caregiver from a distance for my 85 year old mother with Alzheimer’s disease. Being 3000 miles away causes anxiety when things happen, such as a fall or, worse, when your mother loses the ability to communicate. I have learned how to manage the stress by changing my attitude about it. Dr. Agnes Hughes presented on the sources of stress that caregivers seem to acquire. Dr. Hughes states that strength can be found when we as caregivers see change as a challenge and not a threat. Who doesn’t like a challenge? Not too many people find challenges fun, exciting or something that they will reflect on later as a “learning experience”. I, for one, like to be challenged and this affects the way I perform my daily job as an instructor, a speech language pathologist , a sister, daughter , wife and friend.
Hughes remarked about our choices in life.We can either get involved in the challenge or alienate ourselves from it. Either way this affects the daily stress of knowing your loved one is not going to get better or will remain in the same state for now. I have found that parents who have children with cancer thrive when they are involved in fundraising efforts, who volunteer at schools or who seek wisdom from other parents of children with cancer.I have found strength in dealing with stress by getting it under control. Keeping a journal is a helpful tool on many levels. The act of writing puts distance between the situation. It allows one to find the correct word to label the emotion properly. Writing is a tool used in cognitive therapy. Writing helps us to identify the negative emotions that are triggered by stress.
I want you all to know that at B.R.A.I.N. , we understand what you as a survivor, parent, spouse, or friend are experiencing. You are not alone. Last spring, we hosted a one day caregiving workshop for families who were bringing their injured family members home. We care for our caregivers as much as we care for those who have been injured.
I welcome you to join us at our weekly meetings to see what we do each week to embrace the positives in life and to eliminate the negative emotions and to move on to something productive.
Angela Mandas, MA CCC
Speech Language Pathologist
F.B.I. Group Facilitator