Caregiver Depression? Exercise the Blues Away!

If caregiving has you feeling overwhelmed or stressed you to the point you think you may actually be depressed, you’re not alone.
As Cy Sarah, a participant in our Caregiver Stress Relief  online community said, “When I get overwhelmed, it’s because I’m not taking time for myself, so I’m learning to build time into the schedule of appointment, paperwork, chores, etc., just for me…specifically doing something that I like and I want and will help me.”
A recent survey conducted by Home Instead Inc. showed that 31 percent of family caregivers experience significant stress. Caregiving can be very rewarding, but it also can contribute to feelings of anxiety, isolation and guilt.
If you believe you may be experiencing caregiver depression, take heart.Research conducted by Harvard Medical School  found that exercise may work as well as antidepressant medications in easing symptoms of depression.
If you hate exercise or wonder how on earth you’re supposed to find time for fitness during your hectic caregiving day, we have some tips to help. Try these approaches:
  • Pick an activity before you try finding time for it. Many experts advise making fitness a priority by scheduling it on your calendar to ensure you honor your commitment. But it’s easy to skip the workout if you hate exercising. To solve this problem, try choosing a fitness activity before you commit to exercising regularly. It’s easy to find time for doing something fun.
Try different types of fitness activities to find the right fit.Exercise is like shoes: you often have to try on several pairs
  • to find the one that feels the best. If you find it boring to walk every day, try signing up for an exercise class. If the idea of exercising with a group with other people puts you off, try popping a fitness DVD into your player at home. Keep trying out different types of fitness until you find something that fits your tastes.
  • Reach back into childhood for fun ideas. What activities did you enjoy as a kid? Shooting baskets? Nature walks? Dance class? Treat yourself like a kid again by taking up an activity you haven’t done for a long time. You may find it’s just as fun today as you remember it being when you were a kid.
  • Don’t make things complicated. Aim for 10 minutes a day of physical activity to start with. It can be something as simple as boogeying around the living room to your favorite music. Anything to get your blood pumping!
  • Create a respite plan to ensure you have time for exercise. If your loved one can’t be left alone for even half an hour, you probably need some caregiving help. Enlist the aid of other family members, friends, a neighbor or a paid caregiver to give you some breathing room. You will be a better caregiver if you keep yourself in good health.
  • Exercise with your loved one. Exercise benefits seniors in many ways. If you can’t get away to exercise on your own, try finding a class or program that will allow both of you to get fit together. Or simply go walking.
Refresh your body and spirit with a little exercise during the coming weeks and see if it lifts your mood. Visit the Family Caregiver Stress Relief section for more information and resources that can help you manage the challenges of caregiving.