Journaling to Help Manage Caregiver Stress

September 12, 2018

Journaling can help manage stress

Caregivers often live with high levels of stress and anxiety. Finding ways to manage it is key to a caregiver’s personal health. Learn how journaling can help.

Acting as a caregiver for a loved one can be very rewarding. It provides family members with an opportunity to care for an aging parent, grandparent, or other elder who once cared for them. The intimate nature of caregiving gives families a chance to connect in meaningful ways.

It’s important to know, however, that caregiving isn’t an easy role to assume. If you are stressed and overwhelmed, know that you aren’t alone in those feelings.

Being responsible for the health and well-being of someone around the clock can be physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. It isn’t uncommon for a caregiver to experience a health crisis of their own. One way to prevent that is to practice good self-care. Doing so will allow you to manage the stress and strain that can put a family caregiver’s health at risk.

Journaling is one potential solution to explore.

Narrative Therapy to Manage Caregiver Stress

Researchers say journaling is a therapeutic exercise, so much so that they refer to it as narrative therapy. Getting feelings down on paper often helps caregivers come to terms with their doubts and fears and move to a place of resolution and peace.

At the University of Iowa’s School of Nursing, researchers looked at journaling as an activity to help lower the stress and anxiety common among family caregivers. In a trial of 800 participants, researchers found that caregivers who documented their daily highs and lows along with their fears and worries had lower rates of stress and lived healthier lives.

Journaling provides an opportunity for the conscious and subconscious minds to work through their challenges, which results in lower stress. Reducing chronic stress strengthens the immune system, keeping the caregiver healthy.

The Caregiver Journal

While journaling is a great way to relieve stress, figuring out how to get started can be intimidating. Journaling experts say not to overthink it. Head to your local discount store and purchase an inexpensive notebook or two. Skip the fancy journals for now.

Schedule ten or fifteen minutes each night before you go to sleep to document how you feel about the day. Getting your worries down on paper might help you sleep better. If you are struggling to figure out how you really feel, ask yourself a few questions and log the answers in your journal.

Use these prompts to get started:

  • What did I have difficulty coping with today?
  • What went well today?
  • What memories did I make today that I can look back on when I’m no longer a caregiver?
  • What challenges do I need to find a solution for?
  • What is worrying me or making me feel stressed?
  • What do I need to accept and find peace with?
  • What am I grateful for today?

After a few weeks, you’ll likely find journaling becomes easier and you won’t have to rely on prompts each day.

Respite Services Give Caregivers a Break

One more tip for managing caregiver stress is to accept that no one can do it alone. Every caregiver needs to take regular breaks to rest and restore. Legacy communities offer short-term respite care services for that very reason. A senior can be our guest for a few days or weeks while their caregiver takes some time off. Call the Legacy Senior Living community nearest you to learn more!