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"So Stressed Vacation Didn't Work"

“So Stressed Vacation Didn't Work”

I’m J Smiles, comedian, Alzheimer’s and Dementia activist, and family caregiver. You may know me from Parenting Up™, where we’re a family of caregivers taking care of our family members together. Welcome to P.U.B. the Parenting Up  Blog

It is well known that stress is a silent killer. Stress can be defined as a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation, according to the World Health Organization. There are three main types of stress:

  • Acute stress - usually triggered by a stressful or traumatic event, and typically lasts less than a month.
  • Episodic acute stress - takes place when you experience acute stress frequently. 
  • Chronic stress - the persistent feeling of being pressured and overwhelmed for a long period of time. 

If you're a caregiver reading this, or know someone who is a caregiver, more likely than not, you or they, have experienced not only one type of stress, but all three simultaneously. Listen, do you know much stress you have to be under to be stressed on vacation? This is a serious question. Granted, I was stressed before I went on vacation, but I was excited and looking forward to going. But by the second day, I was suffocating with stress. I was suffering for Caregiver Stress Syndrome.  

What is Caregiver Stress Syndrome? It is a condition characterized by physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. It typically results from a person neglecting their own physical and emotional health because they are focused on caring for an ailing loved one. I take no greater pride than caring for my mama. But sometimes I do by myself on the back burner. And this time, I did so so much, a getaway couldn't get me away from the weight and the stress of that responsibility. Don't get me wrong, everything isn't all bad; I promise I'm not merely complaining, but there are a few things that truly make caregiving a nightmare. Or should I say lifemare, because it's not just at night that you have to care for your LO. It's day and night for the rest of your life. 


It's clear that a mere vacation is not what I needed. Caregiver respite and wellness retreats are places where you can go to vacation on purpose. They have an itineraries and agendas that resolve around one thing: how to relieve the stress of a caregiver. They even talked to medical staff about what it is that caregivers do to provide exactly what the caregiver need to relax and unwind. This ranges from spas to yoga to therapy sessions, all with relaxation in mind. Keep in mind the difference between retreat and respite. Retreat is where you're the focus and cared for. Respite is where they will care for your LO for a few hours, sometimes up to six, while you go out wherever you wish. As caregivers, it's important to take your Caregiver hat off and take a beat for yourself. 


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🎧Full audio podcast episode for this blog post: I'm on the edge of quitting Caregiving!