**Stress and Families of Patients
-A diagnosis that brings a loved ones life or health into question is traumatic.
-Illness takes its toll on family relationships as each person tries to cope with the shock
-The person who is sick becomes the emotional priority for all the family.
-There may be a shift in how family members relate to each other
-This shift can cause difficulty.
-This is natural and normal
**Ways a Loved One’s Illness Affects the Whole Family
-Emotional upheaval including feelings of guilt, anger, fear, frustration, embarrassment and/or despair
-Function disruption: Each family member plays a different role in a household. When a loved one becomes sick, the family structure can fall apart with each family member feeling pressure to fill the roles of the patient as well as their own usual functions.
-Body burn-out: Taking care of a sick family member takes its toll. Between medical appointments, special meals, driving the sick family member around can picking up prescriptions can lead to high levels of stress taking its toll on the caregiver
-Rocky relationships: As each family member copes with the diagnosis and treatment, complex emotions can develop. Some may feel overburdened while others may feel neglected. Poor communication can cause tension and arguments. Strained relationships takes a toll on the patient as well as the rest of the family.
-Work and school slip-ups: A loved one’s illness can affect family members due to poor concentration, worry or missing meetings and deadlines due to appointments.
-Financial fallout: There are financial implications when someone is sick. If that person was the main breadwinner, there may be adjustments to a lower level of income. There are costs involved in travelling to appointments or medical fees. Hiring caregivers can become an unmanageable stress. Or a family member may quit their job to care for the sick loved one, adding another financial implication.
-Social struggles: Meeting the needs of a sick loved one can have a social impact. There may not be much time or money to connect with other people. The emotional impact of a sick loved one can make it difficult to have fun and connect with friends.
**The Need for Support
-There are many challenges when a loved one is sick.
-It’s important to find the right support not just for the sick loved one, but for the whole family.
-When caring for a sick loved one, it’s important for family members to look after themselves too so they don’t get sick themselves.
**The Relaxation Response
-The relaxation response is the rest and digest part of the nervous system.
-It basically undoes the work of the stress response after a stressful situation.
-The relaxation response happens when we feel safe, nurtured or taken care of.
-It can block effects from your body’s response to stress.
-This is good for your mental and physical health.
**Effective Relaxation Techniques
-The most effective relaxation technique is one that works for you!
-Different relaxation techniques will help different people at different times.
-What works for you this week, may not work next week.
-But it might work again next month.
-Our needs vary and so it’s important to have a toolbox of relaxation techniques to help you on a regular basis.